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Student at McCourt School Helps With Rwandan Coffee Research

Colin Huerter Whittington Scholar Photo

This year's Whittington Scholar, Colin Huerter (G'14), is recognized for his international development work, academic excellence and community service.

October 11, 2013 – McCourt School of Public Policy (MSPP) student Colin Huerter (G’14), this year’s recipient of the coveted Whittington Scholarship, wants to improve the way the United States works with developing countries.

“My goal is to help us become more efficient and more effective in how we utilize our resources in helping developing countries,” says master’s of public policy candidate from Colorado Springs, Colo. “We have limited resources to put into development aid, so I want to help improve how we use those resources by figuring out what are the most effective programs and policies we can use to spur growth and development.”

Georgetown officially launched the new McCourt School of Public Policy (MSPP), formerly the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, on Oct. 8.

Helping Farmers

Since this summer, Huerter has been interning with the Global Knowledge Initiative, based in Washington, D.C., to support various programs related to agriculture and water in East Africa.

One of the projects he’s helped support involves Global Knowledge’s collaboration with scientists researching the coffee sector in Rwanda.

“The country’s economy is really dependent on premium coffee exports,” he says. “Coffee is a big cash crop and almost all of it comes from smallholder farmers.”

Huerter has been working with a team of researchers trying to determine why some of the coffee batches have an unpleasant odor. They are also trying to figure out preventative measures or ways to remove the affected batches.

“They’ve narrowed the cause down to a couple of bacteria or fungi,” he says. “Next April, there will be a coffee conference in Rwanda to highlight the research that has been done.”

A Quiet Leader

Huerter, who is studying international policy and development at the MSPP, was named this year’s Whittington Scholar for his academic excellence and commitment to service.

The annual award is named after Leslie Whittington, the associate dean and professor of public policy who died on Sept. 11 with her husband and two small children when terrorists hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 and crashed it into the Pentagon.

“Colin is an outstanding student and has shown steady commitment to service in his communities – MSPP, Georgetown, Washington, D.C., and beyond,” says Carolyn Hill, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of public policy. “Both in and out of class, he is inquisitive and insightful. He's a quiet leader.”

A Dedicated Volunteer

Huerter, who spent 2008-2010 in Morocco with the Peace Corps, regularly volunteers in the city, supporting the D.C. Public Schools Beautification Day, at the local Armed Services Retirement Home and the Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy.

He also serves as treasurer of Hoya Circles, Georgetown's first multicultural-focused graduate student organization, serves as an MSPP admissions ambassador, treasurer of the Georgetown Public Policy Student Association (GPPSA).

The public policy student says he relishes his role as an admissions ambassador for MSPP.

“I got involved in the admissions ambassadors program because I think one of the best sources for information for prospective students is current students,” he says. I talked to current students when I was applying and that really informed my decision to attend.”

Top-Notch Faculty

Huerter says Georgetown’s location is “unbeatable” for public policy students.

“We’re in the heart of D.C.,” he says. “The faculty is top-notch because we have access to people who are really at the top of the field and we have so many great adjuncts who are practitioners during the day, working at organizations such as the World Bank and USAID. There are so many opportunities here.”

He says he's also thrilled about the creation of MSPP.

“This was really big news to everyone,” he said. “I’m really happy about the changes on the horizon with the establishment of the Massive Data Institute, the opportunities to attract more leading scholars in the field, and the McCourt Fellowship Program is an important component for the students.”

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