Adrienne Harry

Jasmine Wright knew she wanted to obtain a Master of Global Affairs (MGA) since her second year of undergrad. “I knew I wanted to be involved in global governance. I was always fascinated by the United Nations and other international organizations. The University of Toronto provides great opportunities for grad students and I found that to be especially true while at the Munk School.”

During her time in the MGA program, Wright, who graduates in June, took advantage of every opportunity. She served on the Master of Global Affairs Student Association as director of external affairs, led the mentor team for the Munk School’s Global Ideas Institute, participated in the Kakehashi Project, an exchange program established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan; and even got to learn more about the UN through an internship with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) in New York.

“My internship was a fantastic experience, probably the number one highlight in the program for me. The MGA internship coordinator supported me in getting an internship I really wanted; it was a dream to be able to intern at the UN,” says Wright.

Through her internship, Wright co-authored a report in January examining how Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems impact vulnerable populations in humanitarian contexts. The report aimed to answer questions like what are the implications of using biometric technologies on refugee populations? Are there biases or security risks associated with the use of this technology? What are the ethical implications around using AI systems in disaster response situations? Her work earned a mention in Forbes magazine.

“I tried to really write a report that can help give vulnerable people agency and to understand exactly what implications they will face going forward when it comes to using AI systems. That report was an honour to write.”

Wright’s internship experience at the UN will come in handy post-graduation. In July, she will begin her job in the Government of Canada’s Advanced Policy Analyst Program (APAP), where she will work within the country’s United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Unit. “This is directly in line with my interests in UN work and will help me understand and contribute to Canada’s response to the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” she says.

Like most 2020 grads, the COVID-19 pandemic made for an abrupt end to Wright’s in-person classes. She cites the support of the MGA faculty and administrative team as instrumental to finishing her school year strong, despite sudden challenges. “The team all provided a lot of support to make the transition to remote learning as smooth and as seamless as possible. Professors were understanding and they showed empathy and sympathy for students. It was much-needed in a very uncertain time.”

As Wright looks ahead to her future as a policy analyst for the federal government, she parts with sage advice for future MGAs: “Come into the program with an open mind and a willingness to take on as many interesting opportunities as you can. Be proactive about your learning, extend empathy to your colleagues and try to make your interests work for you.”

June 2, 2020