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Name: Nellie Morris
Job: Princeton in Africa Fellow at Nexii
Current City: Cape Town, South Africa
School: Princeton - Class of 2011
Major: Near Eastern Studies
When I started at Princeton, I knew very little about what path to take. My passions were at the intersection of women's empowerment, the Middle East, education and economic development. The combination of these interests led me down several seemingly diverse paths and by the time senior year came I was even more confused than when I started at Princeton about what career to pursue. I received my degree in Near Eastern Studies with a certificate in the Program on Women and Gender. While studying abroad in Egypt, I worked at an NGO to teach English to underprivileged Egyptian university students and witnessed many of these students becoming “necessity entrepreneurs” as the unemployment rate in Egypt is among the highest in the world. This experience opened my eyes to the potential of social entrepreneurship, power of education and the need to create innovative solutions for job creation and poverty alleviation.
After returning to Princeton, I got involved with an organization called Circle of Women and hoped to encourage a more sustainable approach to social sector delivery and education. My involvement with The Liechtenstein Institute of Self-Determination allowed me to gain perspective on the role of policy in a developing world context. A summer internship in the corporate world allowed me to recognize the advantages of efficient, market based solutions as well as the drawbacks of the Wall Street approach to produce meaningful social impact. So when it came time to search for a real world job, I was perplexed about how to take what I had learned from the public, private and social sectors and apply cross-sector solutions to benefit society. My senior year, I took a class called “Ventures to Address Global Challenges” which led me to discover that “social entrepreneurship” could be a viable career path. Then I was informed about Princeton in Africa.
I am currently a Princeton in Africa fellow in Cape Town, South Africa working for a firm called Nexii. Nexii is a social enterprise working to facilitate the flow of capital toward high impact initiatives through building the financial infrastructure to make these types of investment opportunities possible. We have launched the world’s first publicly regulated social stock exchange, the Impact Exchange Board (iX), dedicated to social enterprises and impact investors. Through my work with Nexii, I have had incredible opportunities to work on a range of exciting projects, meet amazing people, and travel to Bolivia, Peru and Columbia. I am learning more than I ever could have imagined and gaining invaluable perspective from being on the ground. I have been given tremendous responsibility and exposure that would have been out of the question at an entry job in the US. I am really happy and living the life of adventure and education I had hoped for.
Explore as many opportunities as possible to get hands on international experience. Help out with local initiatives. Get involved with projects other students are working on. Take on short term internships to gain experience in a variety of fields. Reach out to alumni to get their advice. Apply for opportunities and fellowships abroad. Most importantly, explore your passions. If you are not sure what exactly you want to do – don’t worry! I still only have a broad sense of what I want to do but that is what makes the future so much more exciting!
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