Feature
2017/19 Jamaica House Fellow, Dr. Karelle Samuda
Photo: Contributed

Story Highlights

  • Outgoing Jamaica House Fellow, Dr. Karelle Samuda, believes that the Jamaica House Fellowship Programme is suited for young people in the diaspora, where they will be able to contribute to the country’s development.
  • Dr. Samuda returned to Jamaica from the United States in March of 2017, and served in the Fellowship Programme for two years.
  • “I felt honoured being given the opportunity to come back to Jamaica and work closely with the staff of the OPM in my first rotation of the Fellowship, and within the Ministry of Finance and Public Service for my second rotation. As I end my tenure in the programme, I look forward to continuing my work in Jamaica and contribute further to policy development,” Dr. Samuda tells JIS News in an interview.

Outgoing Jamaica House Fellow, Dr. Karelle Samuda, believes that the Jamaica House Fellowship Programme is suited for young people in the diaspora, where they will be able to contribute to the country’s development.

Dr. Samuda returned to Jamaica from the United States in March of 2017, and served in the Fellowship Programme for two years.

“I felt honoured being given the opportunity to come back to Jamaica and work closely with the staff of the OPM in my first rotation of the Fellowship, and within the Ministry of Finance and Public Service for my second rotation. As I end my tenure in the programme, I look forward to continuing my work in Jamaica and contribute further to policy development,” Dr. Samuda tells JIS News in an interview.

Born in the parish Clarendon, Dr. Samuda completed a portion of her secondary education at the Bishop Gibson High School for Girls, in Manchester. At 16 she was awarded a scholarship to study at the United World Colleges in Wales, United Kingdom, where she completed the equivalent of sixth form.

She received another scholarship to do her undergraduate degree at the University of Washington and Lee in Virginia, where she studied Political Sciences. Upon graduating, she moved to Washington D.C. to complete her Master’s in International Policy Development at Georgetown University.

“After completing my Master’s, I figured I had endured enough school and made the decision to work with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), focused on enhancing the lives of persons in developing countries,” Dr. Samuda says.

Though she was away from home, her heart was still in Jamaica, thus the reason her studies focused on the policies affecting developing countries, which include Jamaica.

After completing her studies, Dr. Samuda worked with a Think Tank at the Centre for Global Development in Washington D.C., where the focus was on the foreign aid policies of First World countries and the impact they had on developing countries. At the centre, she did research and provided programmatic support. This, she explains was quite beneficial to her, as it fell in line with her course at Georgetown University.

Her passion for policy development pushed her to seek out additional opportunities that would allow her to utilise her skills to enhance aspects of Third World.

“After working with the Centre for Global Development, I decided that I wanted a different perspective in policy development and transitioned to another NGO that did programming through funding from the USAID in African countries, which afforded me the opportunity to work in Senegal for a year on a youth leadership development programme,” she pointed out.

From there, she went back to academia to pursue her PhD in Public Policy at the George Mason University in Virginia.

“While undertaking my PhD, I worked at the World Bank where I was part of a study that looked at developing countries with an abundance of natural resources and how they can use their profits to invest in their human development sector, which includes health and education. This study was later published as a book,” Dr. Samuda said.

Having excelled in all areas, Dr. Samuda had a yearning to practise public policy and development work in either Jamaica or West Africa, and started searching for an opportunity to achieve her goal.

“While finalising my dissertation, I realised that I wanted to spend some time away from the US, so even though I travelled because of work, I spent most of my time in the states from about 2000 to 2017. One day, I saw an ad on the OPM’s Twitter account featuring the Fellowship Programme and I submitted my application,” she recalled.

She also submitted an application for a similar opportunity in Mali in West Africa.

“The Mali application was proceeding much faster, but I was holding out for the opportunity in Jamaica, as I wanted to go home much more than I wanted to be in Mali, and I wanted to make a positive impact on my home country. I eventually got an email saying that I was selected for the next round of interviews,” she says.

“Eventually, I received word that I had advanced to the interview stages for the Fellowship in Jamaica where I later went through two rounds of interviews. I was comforted that the team was accommodating throughout my application process, so much so that the interviews were done remotely,” Dr. Samuda adds.

She was then notified of her success as a selected fellow, and returned to Jamaica on March 5, 2017. She joined other Fellows a few days later, and was pinned by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness.

“I was not quite done with my dissertation to complete my PhD, but the coordinators of the Fellowship and my supervisors were quite understanding of this. I was officially awarded the PhD in May of 2018,” she notes.

Filled with excitement, she expressed how she was looking forward to learning about the operations of the Jamaican government and how best her skillset could be utilised in advancing the policies and processes that govern the country.

Dr. Samuda has worked with the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Finance and Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke and their teams, drafting speeches, and engaging in policy and economic data analysis to inform the public and government entities.

As she ends her stint in the programme, Dr. Samuda hopes to spend at least another year at the Ministry of Finance and Public Service and give her time at the Office of the Prime Minister by being a mentor to the incoming Fellows.

“I’ve found working at the Ministry particularly enjoyable and I know I have more to learn. Beyond my time with Minister Clarke and his team, I hope to contribute to Jamaica’s growth in whatever capacity I find myself. I want to stick around Jamaica for a couple more years,” Dr. Samuda says.

The Jamaica House Fellowship Programme is geared towards actively engaging citizens in achieving the Vision 2030 goal of making Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.