Student from Kenya Follows Dreams of Helping People
By Leah Westfall
May 17, 2011
“I want to help the people of Africa help themselves,” said Caroline in a Kenyan accent. Born and raised in Africa, Caroline came to the U.S. with the hope and a plan to one day help the people of her home town. So why jump continents to help the people she rubs elbows with at home? It’s all part of Caroline’s plan, a plan that’s taken a great deal of dedication and hard work.
Caroline attended United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya where she studied journalism. Upon completion she soon realized her true passion is in helping people. She set out to study nonprofit in the U.S. in order to acquire as many resources and skills as she could to take back to Africa with her before she began her work there.
Admitting to knowing very little about Arizona State University before she came, Caroline said she knew they had the program she wanted to study and that was enough for her to enroll in the university’s two-year Nonprofit Studies masters program.
“It took me by surprise,” said Caroline remembering receiving her acceptance letter from ASU. Soon after she began looking for scholarships. “I didn’t know where I was going to get the tuition” said Caroline.
While attending school in Kenya, Caroline’s educators encouraged students to use Fastweb.com to find money for school. While on the site Caroline found the American Association of University Women (AAUW) scholarship. AAUW is a nonprofit nationwide network dedicated to breaking through barriers for women and girls. The organization is made up of 100,000 members and donors, 1,000 branches and 500 college/university partners. Through AAUW Caroline earned a scholarship for about $19,000 that paid her tuition for two years while she attended ASU as a graduate student. Two years later Caroline completed the course work and earned her degree in Nonprofit Studies in 2010. When we spoke on the phone, Caroline was eagerly looking forward to attending her graduation commencement the next day.
When asked what advice she has for fellow Fastwebbers seeking scholarships Caroline said for international students she would first encourage them to use the internet to find scholarships and apply to as many scholarships as possible, but to always be aware of fraudulent organizations and never pay money upfront. “Above all they should be very persistent, and never give up.” said Caroline. “All around us there are people who have had positive experiences, learn from them, networking is key.”
Caroline also said it is important for students to remain modest and do what they need to do achieve their goal. “If you are offered a job you should be humble enough to work that job, even if it’s not glamorous,” said Caroline who has works in her school’s cafeteria preparing salads and other food items for fellow students while she continues to look for a job in her field.
Caroline plans work for a nonprofit in the U.S. for some time before returning to African to help people with establishing themselves and entrepreneurship.