Alexus Tucker’s career trajectory is marked by some charming snapshots in her Instagram feed. One post features side-by-side images of Tucker at the Indiana House Democratic Caucus as a middle-school page, later as an intern, and finally as director of legislative affairs. Another post pairs a photo of Tucker as an Indiana Statehouse intern next to then-Senator Joe Donnelly with a later photo of her as Donnelly’s full-fledged staffer. And a March 2020 image documents her Peace Corps service in Eswatini, a small landlocked country in southern Africa, cut short by the pandemic.
Now a first-year master of global affairs student at Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs, Tucker is expanding her expertise to include international development after nearly a decade of experience in state politics.
“My twenties consisted of showing up and working hard,” Tucker said. “This hard work and an openness to learning and growing enabled my work to evolve from the state level to the federal level.” As Donnelly’s special assistant, Tucker handled constituent outreach to African Americans and led the senator’s efforts to promote the Veterans History Project, a Library of Congress initiative that records and archives the stories of US veterans. (Donnelly, a Notre Dame graduate, is currently United States Ambassador to the Holy See.)
Tucker, whose late father served in the US Army for eight years, holds a special place in her heart for those who have performed military service.
“The Veterans History Project was very influential to me,” said Tucker, who grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. “As I traveled around Indiana to these events that allowed vets to share their histories, I was struck by their passion and determination. I remembered my own father’s stories and this experience reignited my desire to serve my country and do development work as I had in the Peace Corps.”
This summer Tucker will work on a development project that will take her to Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, and Sierra Leone through a partnership between the Keough School’s Integration Lab (i-Lab) and United Methodist Church Global Ministries. As part of a team of four master of global affairs students, Tucker will bolster an ongoing agriculture intervention known as the Yambasu Agriculture Initiative by designing and implementing a mid-term evaluation, with the ultimate goal of enhancing agricultural growth and food security.
Tucker says she’s especially looking forward to the field work and to learning more about Sierra Leone, the home country of her i-Lab teammate, classmate and friend Nyangah Rogers-Wright.
“Having a classmate from an area where I will be doing development work is such a powerful experience for me,” said Tucker, “I’ve had the opportunity to share parts of my life here in the US with her, and now I’ll be able to go to the place where she’s the contextual expert.”
For Tucker, whose first international educational experience was an undergraduate study abroad program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, being part of an MGA class from diverse backgrounds is a key part of the degree program.
“Having classmates from all around the world is one of the aspects I enjoy the most,” Tucker said. “To have such knowledgeable people in my inner circle is incredible.”
After she graduates from the master of global affairs program in 2024, Tucker hopes to work in the international development sector for a federal agency such as USAID. Whatever her professional future holds, she’ll bring with her a solid decade of government experience, a rich academic background in global affairs, and the same laudable dedication to public service that has marked every step of her career trajectory thus far.