Alumni of the Month  |  2013-02
February 1, 2013

Shaping the Future of Education in Azerbaijan

Sevinj Mammadova, an alumna of the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (Global UGRAD) and Edward S. Muskie Fellowship Program (Muskie) from Azerbaijan, is the February International Exchange Alumni Member of the Month. Sevinj will be recognized throughout February for her leadership in shaping the future of Azerbaijan’s education system. She is proof that, as she says, the exchange experience is “not just about academic achievements or the number of years you spend living in the United States; it is all about a life changing experience that equips you with tools to give back to your community and to foster development of your country.”

Sevinj first came to the United States as part of the Global UGRAD program in 2004 when she studied education policy for one year at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Returning to Azerbaijan after this program, she promptly put her new skills to work, accepting a training position with a local NGO. Her passion to foster local reform led her to initiate projects that gathered and motivated young professionals to train 80 teachers in seven regions on topics such as managing a classroom, forming a lesson plan, and working with students with disabilities.

Later, Sevinj wanted to expand her knowledge of educational policy. She applied for and won a Muskie fellowship in 2008 to pursue a master’s degree in education at the University of Texas-Arlington. Upon her return to Baku, she worked as the executive director of the U.S. Educated Azerbaijani Alumni Association (AAA), where she managed a series of projects connecting alumni to underserved communities throughout Azerbaijan. In 2012, she was appointed as head of the Education Division at the Central Bank of Azerbaijan, where she now leads a team of experts planning and implementing large-scale educational reforms throughout Azerbaijan.

Recently, Sevinj established the Alumni Initiative Group which, in conjunction with members of AAA, mobilizes alumni to become more active in their community through various projects, including the creation of a network of education specialists that compiles and presents education policy papers, a women’s club that connects women from various professional circles, and a health club that connects community members with doctors to raise awareness of health-related issues.

Each month, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ (ECA) Alumni Affairs Division, which supports alumni as they build on their exchange experiences, recognizes one outstanding alumnus or alumna. Throughout February, Sevinj Mammadova will be recognized on the International Exchange Alumni website, ECA’s official website for the more than one million Department-sponsored exchange alumni worldwide.