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Home > For Students > MPA/MPP Alumni > Alumni in Asia

Dina Khassenova


Every Day Brings Something New for Muskie Grad

ppp Job Title:
Program/Budget Specialist

Organization:
USAID, Central Asia

Graduate:
MPA; Public Administration; 2004
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Home Country:
Kazakhstan


What do you enjoy about your job? What aspects of your job are the most exciting or interesting?
My position of program/budget specialist is located in the Office of Democracy and Conflict Mitigation (DM), one of eight offices in the USAID Regional Mission for Central Asia. Under the general supervision of the DM Director, I serve as a Cognizant Technical Officer (CTO) and professional specialist for USAID/Central Asia democracy programs, and I also serve as a senior budgetary analyst with primary responsibility for all facets of the DM budget process (including budget planning and execution). Work involves the full range of consultative, advisory, monitoring, management, data collection, analysis and evaluative services in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. I enjoy my job being so challenging. It requires advanced management and financial skills. I also like that every day I learn something new about economic, political, social, and cultural characteristics of the Central Asian Republics. We have got a great team of professionals here, and I am lucky to work in such an environment.

Why did you choose to pursue an MPA/MPP degree?
I decided to choose an MPA degree because it combines both technical and humanitarian aspects. The first year at UMASS we had mainly technical subjects like econ, finance, statistics, etc. and then the following year we had more policy-related subjects. Thanks to that, I can apply my skills in different fields including business, non-profit and government.

How did you select your graduate school?
I did not select the school; they selected me. I won the Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program providing opportunities for outstanding young professionals to study at the master's degree level in the United States.

How do you feel your MPA/MPP is helping you to make a difference?
While at UMASS, some professors were telling me that it may be hard for me to apply the skills I learned since most of the subjects were mainly about the American experience. I am no longer in the US, but the knowledge I gained in classes at UMASS is still with me. I am working for USAID in Kazakhstan now and the American experience happens to be useful for my work in Kazakhstan. I am not sure if I can call this an accomplishment but last year I applied for 2 competitive training programs (one in Hungary on conflict management and another in Sweden on human rights) and got accepted to both of them. When I completed the second program I passed the on-line examination and obtained a diploma from the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, University of Lund, Sweden. In 2006 I represented Kazakhstan at the Regional Muskie Alumni Conference (Building Democratic Societies and Market Economies in Eurasia) in Georgia.

How would you characterize your personality?
*Good under pressure * Creative * Organized * Committed * Analytical *

Contact Dina Khassenova with questions regarding her graduate experience:
Email Dina

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