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Headshot 2 - Barrett Alexander

My Experience as an international student at Sheffield

Sep 12, 2023

Barrett Alexander graduated from MA International Development in 2013 and currently works as a Senior Policy Advisor at World Vision.

What are your main responsibilities in your current role?
I work with the US Congress, United States Agency for International Development, the State Department, National Security Council, and other humanitarian partner organizations to advocate on behalf of vulnerable populations in fragile and conflict-affected settings.

Why did you want to come to the University of Sheffield to study your chosen degree?
I wanted a different educational environment outside the United States. I wanted to be in a completely new place and experience new things while also getting a world class education. I also chose Sheffield because overall it was cheaper than attending a traditional two year masters program in the U.S. and I could go visit France or Germany on a long weekend rather than the next big American city, if I stayed in the US.

What were your favourite things about or best memories of the University of Sheffield?
Honestly, it was the people that were my favourite thing. The people I met truly made my experience at Sheffield amazing. From nights out to going to watch Sheffield United matches to getting to go away on trips, all of these things would not have been as memorable without the friends I made inside and outside my program. The city itself also helped. I think normal, everyday people living in Sheffield not connected to the University were so welcoming, so helpful and really made the city feel like home. Sheffield is also big enough as a city to have the amenities of a bigger city while also being cheaper than other comparable cities around the UK.

Please explain how has your qualification and/or time at Sheffield helped you in your career?
I think my qualification helped me in a variety of ways. First, being in a different educational environment challenged me academically. I knew what to expect of US institutions, but UK universities were an exciting challenge. Second, my lecturers and professors in my program were excellent at pushing me to be my best and reach my full potential. Third, having an education in the UK provided an interesting resume addition for recruiters. In almost every interview I had following graduating, recruiters would ask about my Sheffield education and why I chose to go there and gave me a really interesting opportunity to talk about all the skills I grew and opportunities I had there. Lastly, I think it was personally good for me to be so far from home, outside of my comfortable environment. It pushed me to meet new friends, try new things and have new perspectives, travel, and become a better overall person.

What has been your greatest achievement to date?
My greatest accomplishment to date is helping nearly 850,000 people survive the deadly conflict in Sudan and South Sudan through the distribution and monitoring of food assistance, medical supplies, and agricultural inputs. My team and I in South Sudan were involved everyday in ensuring that suffering and vulnerable men, women, and children were able to access food and other items necessary for their survival.

Please outline your career history: how did you get to where you are today?
Sheffield – Program Associate in charity sector – Research Analyst in private/defense and homeland security sector – Assistant to the Director in private/defense and homeland security sector – Monitoring and Evaluation Manager in charity sector in South Sudan – Program Manager on Food Security and Livelihoods team in charity sector in Washington DC – Senior Program Manager on Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs team in charity sector in Washington DC – Senior Policy Advisor on Government Relations and Advocacy team in charity sector in Washington DC.