Kirsten Pontalti graduated from the MAIS in 2010 with a final project that focused on children and youth in conflict-affected ‘fragile’ states. With three young children of her own, she planned to graduate and work for a development organisation. But mid-way through the program, the MAIS director encouraged her to pursue her doctoral studies (DPhil) at the University of Oxford. The DPhil was the beginning of a life-changing experience for her and her family, who accompanied her for a term at Oxford and ten months of fieldwork in Rwanda. In 2017, Kirsten successfully defended her dissertation “Coming of Age and Changing Institutional Pathways Across Generations in Rwanda”.
Following completion, Kirsten returned to Rwanda to share her findings. She is excited to now be working as an Associate at Proteknôn Consulting, a group of senior researchers and practitioners internationally focused on child and youth well-being. She is also pursuing further academic research related to children and youth, social change and conflict.
Kirsten is grateful for the camaraderie and support she enjoyed with her MAIS colleagues and professors as well as Ellen’s perpetually warm welcome! She also really appreciates that the MAIS gave her the practical skills and theoretical grounding she needed to succeed in her DPhil.