Selina Carter is a data analyst for the Vice Presidency for Countries at the Inter-American Development Bank. Carter uses quantitative and qualitative analysis to establish current and historical trends of economic performance. Specifically, she uses statistical and econometric analysis to provide decisionmakers with prescriptive and predictive models of firm performance. As part of these main roles, she also supports the data transparency agenda and consults on topics of data collection and processing.
Previously, Carter served as a Research Analyst for J-PAL Africa's "mHealth" project in Mozambique. The mHealth project is a large-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT) that tests the overall effectiveness of a mobile phone application that seeks to increase vaccination rates for newborn babies. As one of two main J-PAL contacts on the ground, Carter's job was to oversee the day-to-day implementation activities of the study and relay this information to the study teams located in South Africa and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Based in Nampula Province, Carter's daily work was to organize data-collection components of project through frequent travels to village clinics with the local survey team. Carter also engaged with local government officials, researchers from the National Institute of Health, and other partners on the ground.
Prior to J-PAL, Carter worked as Financial Director at the Turkish Grameen Microfinance Program (TGMP), Turkey's largest microfinance provider. Carter spent a total of two years in Turkey, first as a Boren Fellow to study Turkish and later to complete her Economics masters thesis. "I'm proud of having introduced TGMP to new statistical tools for program evaluation," she says. "In particular, I helped generate a list of poverty indicators to help TGMP monitor the economic and social well-being of its borrowers."
Carter describes her Maxwell experience as intense, yet well-rounded. "I was able to take the necessary quantitative analysis courses for a scientific approach to policy making, and combine these with subject matter-based courses that offer practical knowledge as well as multiple perspectives. I had a lot of math homework, both for the MPA and Economics degrees, as well as reading articles and book chapters, plus research papers, memo-writing, and endless group work. It was the ideal combination," she says. "There are so many professors I adored, the list would be too long. A few that come to mind are Professor Len Lopoo, Professor Mary Lovely, and Professor Stuart Brown. These professors were extremely challenging and nurturing at the same time."
While at Maxwell, Carter received a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship for studying Turkish, funded by the U.S. Department of Education. She was also a full-time Graduate Assistant for the Middle Eastern Studies Program, and was later a full-time Teaching Assistant for the Department of Political Science. Carter also received a Boren Fellowship to study in Turkey for twelve months and complete her Economics masters thesis. She received a BA in international studies and Spanish from Dickinson College in 2006.
Carter's advice for current students? "Load up on the statistics and econometrics courses, I should have taken even more than I did. My quantitative courses were what got me in the door to many conversations and job opportunities, since a lot of people can do research and write papers. It's important to have a scientific, evidence-based approach to policy making, therefore quant is your friend."