Alumnus works with education programs around the world

Careers as teachers and principals aren't the only ways that McKay School alumni contribute to education. Donny Baum, a BYU alumnus, works as an education consultant with World Bank, an organization with a mission to help eliminate poverty in developing countries by 2030, raising the income of the poorest 40 percent of the population through international research.

Baum earned an undergraduate degree in linguistics from BYU, in addition to taking some classes in international development and education. As he developed this interest, Baum began working under the mentorship of educational leadership professor Macleans A. Geo-JaJa, a relationship that remained strong throughout Baum's work at BYU. Following his undergraduate degree, Baum decided to pursue a master's degree from the McKay School in Comparative and International Development Education. The master's program provided him with the opportunity to work and conduct research on the Navajo Indian reservation in the Four Corners area; his thesis focused on poverty and education among members of the tribe. After completing his master's, Baum proceeded to the University of Minnesota to obtain a PhD in Comparative and International Education.

Baum does not devalue direct student-teacher relationships, but he urges those preparing to be educators to also consider alternative careers that contribute to education from a different perspective.

For those considering or already undertaking careers in education, I would advise consideration of the multiple avenues for enjoyable work. Of course, the relationship between student and teacher is the foundational piece of the educational experience; however, many successful and fulfilling careers can also be found beyond the classroom. The McKay School of Education provides opportunities for students to become skilled teachers, school leaders, policymakers, education researchers, evaluators, and international development practitioners.

Baum grew up hearing his grandfather's stories about his work as an educator in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, and the South Pacific, which sparked his own desire to make a positive difference in the lives of others. He explains how education has the potential to influence both individuals and nations toward improvement in opportunities and systems:

Education is accepted by many as perhaps the most important means of improving a person's life opportunities. At an individual level, education enhances people's ability to sustain a livelihood, be better parents, live healthy lives, make informed decisions, and exercise their rights. Nationally, education plays a critical role in creating responsible citizens, raising civic participation, preparing skilled workers, promoting economic growth, and reducing poverty. These growth and development payoffs provide governments with a strong rationale for providing equitable access to quality education for all children and youth.

Working with the World Bank provides experiences that differ from those of other financial institutions due to the organization's focus on international development. Baum explains how his experience at the World Bank provides opportunities for him to contribute to improving education in developing countries: "The World Bank is not a typical financial institution. . . . It is one of the worlds largest sources of grants, loans, and technical expertise to support governments in their efforts to invest in schools and health centers, provide water and electricity, fight disease, and improve the living standards of people in low- and middle-income countries. My work in the World Bank's education global practice entails contributing to the international research on what policies and programs are and are not effective for improving the quality of education service delivery in developing countries."

Read more about why Baum decided to go into education in another McKay School article here.