- Hometown: Spokane, WA
- Major: Anthropology/Social Studies
Three times out of four, I was blown away by the teaching caliber of my professors. It was rare for me to have a class I didn't look forward to, or a teacher I didn't have the utmost respect for. Even in larger, lower-level courses, most of my professors encouraged discussion and interaction – rarely just lectures and note-taking.
My Environmental Studies 101 professor opened the first lecture with a DVD presentation entitled “I Guess I Didn't Know That”, which grabbed and held the attention of every person in the room. To this day, I still remember my awe at learning that the arctic polar ice sheet had begun melting for the first time in thousands of years as a result of global warming. The course really changed the way I looked at our lifestyle in the U.S. and the environmental impacts of our daily habits. It even prompted me to adopt an environmental theme when I served as Governor for the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Kiwanis clubs.
The Love of Culture
I majored in Anthropology/Social Studies, not because I intended to make anthropology my career, but because I loved the way anthropology forced me out of a cultural comfort zone. I have always been fascinated by different cultures and languages and an anthropology degree was just an enjoyable way to get my bachelor's degree.
Drawn to Africa
I transferred to WWU about four months after returning from a ten-month volunteer stint in Ethiopia. Western had an Afro-Caribbean Club, which I joined immediately as a way of maintaining my connection with Africans (and there happened to be a number of Ethiopians in the club who got a kick out of the fact that I could speak Amharic). I actually served as the Co-MC for the Afro-Caribbean Culture Night that first year at WWU. Looking back, it makes me laugh that I was the token white girl trying to fit in with Africans! (It has become a trend in my adult life.)
Finding a Path
I'd always had a particular attraction to things African, and my volunteer work in Ethiopia confirmed to me that Africa was a place to which I wanted to return. In December of 2004, I stumbled across a lot of statistics for AIDS orphans in Africa, Kenya particularly, and I just knew that was my mission – to have an impact on the lives of children affected by HIV/AIDS. For the last year, I have been working in Kisumu, Kenya, which is capital city of the Kenyan province hardest-hit by HIV/AIDS.
Becoming a Mother
I have become a foster mother to a baby girl named Zawadi (Swahili for “Gift”), who was left to die of starvation at ten months of age. In spite of this rough start in life, Zawadi is now a very healthy little girl. I also have a boy in my home named Maurice, who is like a younger brother to me.
The Next Step
I just started working on my Master's in Project Management through a University of Cambridge, UK, distance-learning institute.