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Errol Abaid ‘08CPS

Graduate Student Uses His Knowledge in International Communication to Reduce Global Poverty

Although he is still a graduate student at St. John’s, Errol Abaid ‘08CPS,’12MPS is already applying his unique skills and international communications knowledge to finding solutions to 21st - Century challenges.

Spurred by dire predictions about the looming threat of widespread global hunger, he not only entered a World Bank competition to develop technology to further the fulfillment of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals  (MDGs) — but is devoting his master’s thesis to designing software to motivate people to make donations for such causes.

A second-year student in the Master of Science Degree Program in International Communication, Errol, who is deeply committed to the University’s Vincentian mission, illustrates how a student with curiosity and vision can use his St. John’s education to make life better for the disadvantaged.  

To enter the competition, Errol used his earlier training in engineering to teach himself Web programming, computer graphics and data-mining technology. He never expected to win since he was competing against software developers — including Google — from 36 countries. But, inspired to continue his work, he has created a user-friendly, stand-alone, real-time software application designed to deliver MDG-related data more efficiently.

When he finishes the project this summer, Errol will start marketing it to such potential users as the U.N., NGOs, educators and other nonprofit as well as for-profit institutions. “I want to help build a network dedicated to global development,” he explained.

“Errol is incredibly talented and driven,” said Basilio Monteiro, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Director of the International Communication program, “I am delighted to have had the privilege of being his mentor since his undergraduate days,” he added. “The fact that he entered the competition against such overwhelming odds is a tribute to Errol’s deep concern for the disenfranchised.”

The College of Professional Studies graduate student’s journey to social awareness started when he lived in Peru from the age of 5 to 18. “That was my first exposure to extreme poverty,” he recalled. He moved to New York City at 19, where he studied audio electronics and engineering for a year before winning a scholarship to St. John’s. As an undergraduate, Errol majored in communication arts and minored in philosophy. “Theology, economics and ethics classes nourished my calling to eradicate human rights violations and to improve the quality of life of the economically deprived.”  

Taking a year off after earning his bachelor’s degree, Errol returned to St. John’s for the master’s program in international communication. “When I read the description, I knew right away that the program was made-to-order for someone like me. Where else would I find a curriculum that combines all my interests, including human rights, social justice, political science, law and communications media?”  

Looking ahead, Errol hopes to secure a position with the U.N. when he graduates and is also considering pursuing a doctoral degree, perhaps in political science. “St. John’s has given me the academic and ethical background and the tools to enable me to keep traveling on my chosen path of making a difference,” he said.