Iynna graduated from the MA International Relations Program in May 2015. She was raised in Cameroon and France. She received her undergraduate degree from Durham University, in England.
Where do you currently work and what do you do there?
I am an entrepreneur fellow with an organization called Archimedes Project. I am currently based in Cameroon for a 3-month period doing an analysis of the sanitation value chain, the gaps and challenges faced in this particular sector. I work with public and private WASH organizations to build local partnerships as well as to identify the needs of local communities. In the longer run I would like to design a toilet and business model accessible for low-income urban and rural communities in Cameroon.
How did the IR Program prepare you for what you are doing now?
The advantage of being in the IR program (which is also a new program) is that as a student you are given a lot of opportunities to impact its future. I was a board member of the IR and Politics Association and in my capacity of Director for Professional Development I worked with faculty and other offices at NYU. Along with the other board members, we quickly became the representatives of our fellow students. This was quite a responsibility, but it definitely trained me to become more assertive and provided me with an opportunity to participate in the future developments of the academic program. With this fellowship, I am doing something rather similar. By exploring the possibility of tackling the sanitation crisis using a social enterprise business model, I hope to be part of a system of change that will hopefully contribute to the betterment of people’s lives.
Why did you choose the IR program at NYU?
The first (and probably ‘easier’) reason: it is in New York, the epicenter of opportunities to grow professionally and personally. Furthermore, I initially aimed to work for an international organization around security issues. And the program was precisely geared towards this specialization when I first applied. That said, I quickly shifted my interest into development issues with a regional focus on sub-Saharan Africa. The program is extremely flexible and I very much enjoy the fact that I could make this transition with the support of my academic advisors. Generally speaking, NYU does an excellent job at letting you create your own agenda and make this experience one that you really want to have.
What was your favorite class during your MA in International Relations?
I did not have a favorite class per se. All my classes complemented each other well and I was able to leverage my experience in one to succeed in another.
Looking back, what were some of your favorite things about studying at NYU and about the IR Program?
NYU is an extremely entrepreneurial school and this was a perfect fit for me. I made this program a tremendous experience because NYU enabled me to do so. My professors have also been extremely open and willing to help me, and they do so to all their students. In addition, I have certainly learned inside the classroom but also outside, through my interaction with my peers, who I now proudly call my friends.
What advice would you give to current and future students of the program?
Take advantage of all the things that come to you but don’t rely on this only. Challenge yourself and go out there to look for more. The IR Program, NYU and more generally New York are amazing but complex places to be in and navigate. I’d also add that it is important, and in fact crucial to seek and listen to advice.