Keino McWhinney (MPP '07) made the most of a rare opportunity when he witnessed—and played a role in—the development of the infant parliament in the Republic of Georgia. It was all part of his two-month summer internship with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in the former Soviet country.
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As a student at the School of Public Policy, McWhinney was able to engage in conversations with young, energetic Georgians about the future and the Western influences visible in the country. Through such interactions, he began to shape his perception of public policy and democracy.
"Bridging the gap between the worlds of public and private life is a complicated task that requires a well rounded understanding of the risks at stake," he says. "Seeing the faces and hearing the stories were important."
While working in Georgia, McWhinney researched and drafted an overview of the country's non-governmental organization (NGO) sector. He examined the development of Georgian civil society and political parties, and helped edit a report of NDI programs, including an account of NDI training in Tbilisi, Georgia's capital. He also assisted in training seminars aimed at aspiring female politicians as part of ongoing effort to get women, who typically have a traditional role in Georgian society, more involved in the political process.
As a recent graduate, McWhinney is eager to continue to use the tools of leadership and ethics that Pepperdine taught him. "The big questions force you to examine yourself," he says. "Big issues, like the war in Iraq and welfare, require analysis that explores your ethical fabric."
The "big questions" continue to shape McWhinney's professional plans. "I want to leave the window open for any direction in which I can be most effective," he says. Whether that window opens for him in his native Jamaica, the United States, Georgia, or elsewhere, he plans on exploring a variety of opportunities, perhaps unexpected, much like the ones that brought him around the world and to the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine.