A Nigerian-American who earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in the United States, Onyinye is returning to her native Nigeria to examine the urgent issue of girls health, education, early marriage and, most of all, girls empowerment. Onyinye holds a Masters of Public Health degree from University of Washington-Seattle, as well as graduate-level certificates in the Global Health of Women, Adolescents and Children, and in Sexual and Reproductive Health Research. Describing the impetus for her project, Onyinye points out that, “Niger is presently ranked as the country with the highest percentage of child brides in the world with 76% of girls married before age 18. Nigeria holds the number 14 position with 43% of girls married before age 18. As a trained global health practitioner and advocate for adolescent sexual and reproductive health, I understand the power in a girl’s voice and the dangers associated with silencing that voice. During my ICWA Fellowship I intend to work with young people and their communities to understand the factors that propel child marriage and hinder girls education. My aim is to identify culturally-sensitive ways to address these critical problems.”
In addition to her academic credentials, she brings field experience in project design and implementation, monitoring and evaluation, maternal and child nutrition and adolescent sexual and reproductive health; Onyinye has worked in both urban and rural/remote locations in Africa and in the US. What’s more, she is skilled in creating and nurturing cross-cultural and interdisciplinary partnerships. An emerging young leader, Onyinye has been recognized by the Clinton Global Foundation as a Commitment Maker, was awarded a prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship as well as a Global Opportunities Health Fellowship. Onyinye’s ICWA Fellowship began in August, 2016 and will continue until August, 2018.
Karina Piser’s research will explore measures to promote French secularism in public high schools in immigrant-heavy areas. Beginning in suburbs of Paris, she will interview students, teachers, administrators, and education-policy practitioners to better understand how the government is targeting schools to improve social cohesion in the aftermath of the 2015 and 2016 terrorist attacks. Prior to receiving the ICWA fellowship, Karina was an editor at World Politics Review, and has previously held positions at the Council on Foreign Relations, the European Council on Foreign Relations, and the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights in Tunis, Tunisia. She holds a master’s degree from Sciences Po Paris, and has written for Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, and World Politics Review, among other publications.
Matt Chitwood, while on fellowship for two years, is living in rural Yunnan, China’s southwestern-most province. In his home village of Bangdong, population 360, he is surrounded by hillsides of tea, walnuts, and coffee – the lifeblood of his neighbors. Matt’s research and writing focuses on how infrastructure development in Yunnan is transforming its people, land, economy, and governance. For almost a decade Matt has worked in Greater China: Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming, and Taipei. His work experience spans the business, education, and non-profit sectors, and includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the US State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship Program. In recent years, Matt has developed, managed, and taught for study abroad programs like CET, CIEE, and Where There Be Dragons. Matt holds a dual M.A. in China Studies and International Economics from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He also completed the graduate certificate program at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. Matt attended undergrad at Northwest Nazarene University, a private Christian liberal arts school, where he majored in International Business and studied abroad in Central America with the CCCU. He speaks Chinese and Spanish. Matt is also an avid pianist-accordionist-ukuleleist and can throw a mean frisbee.