Perspectives from Wellesley Students

Samantha Malambo '12, now working in Zambia: "Take advantage of Wellesley's resources!" and Wangũi Kamonji '13: Now exploring urban forms of environmentalism in Brazil and Mexico
Andrea Kine '13: Making a difference in Swaziland
Chikoti Mibenge Wheat '07, M.D.: Specializing in dermatology with a global health focus
Lori Akin-Olugbade '14: Amazed by Wellesley alumnae connections
Sebiha Abdulla '15: Bringing autism awareness to Ethiopia
Photo by Michelle Kang '13, leading photo workshops and multimedia projects with South African youth

Wellesley students and young alumnae making a difference in the world share their perspectives

Andrea Kine '13:
Examining healthcare and areas related to women's empowerment, education, and agriculture in Swaziland.

An Africana Studies major, Andrea Kine was born and raised in Swaziland. For her honors thesis she studied Swaziland's progress toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the United Nations. She examined healthcare and wider trends of how Swaziland is evolving in ares relate to women's empowerment, education, and agriculture.

Through the Pamela Daniels Fellowship at Wellesley, she traveled home to Swaziland to conduct field research, including meeting with Swaziland King Mswati III, Swazi Minister of Health Benedict Xaba, and other political officials and local leaders. From this experience, she wrote her thesis and created a documentary on Swaziland's progress in meeting these goals. Read more.

 

kumanjiWangũi Kamonji '13:
Studying urban forms of environmentalism

An environmental studies and urban studies major from Kenya, Wangui speaks Kiswahili, Kikuyu, Spanish, Portuguese and a bit of German. She enjoyed Wellesley's Wintersession in Morocco program, which also set her up excellently to participate in the multi-destination study abroad program IHP-Cities in the 21st Century (funded by Wellesley), where she studied urban issues in São Paulo, Cape Town, and Hà Nội. This in turn provided the inspiration for her Wellesley College Service Fellowship 2013-2014, in which she is exploring urban forms of environmentalism and the motivations of those who participate in urban environmental movements and projects in São Paulo, Brazil; Mexico City, Mexico (where she is currently); Stellenbosch, South Africa; and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 

See Wangũi at the Pantsula dance rehearsal for Mamaland, an annual celebration of African culture hosted by the Wellesley African Students' Association. 

 

Sebiha Abdulla '15:
Bringing autism awareness to Ethiopia.

A biochemistry major from Ethiopia, Sebiha chose Wellesley because of its rigorous science program coupled with strong liberal arts. "It's a great combination, as is being in the Boston area," she says. "It's important to understand contemporary issues in science and medicine in order to apply them successfully. You need such breadth and depth of knowledge as a practitioner in public health." By promoting autism awareness in Ethiopia, Sebiha hopes to reduce the current stigma associated with this disorder.

Lori Akin-Olugbade '14:
Amazed by alumnae connections.

"The ability to draw on the connections of well placed and supportive alumnae at Wellesley gives graduates an edge in their chosen profession," explains Lori, who is from Nigeria and Cameroon. As an Albright Fellow at Wellesley, she has met the following women: 

  • Chairman and non-executive director of the Guardian Group and a former board member at Morgan Stanley who passed the NY Bar;
  • Former CIA spy who lived in North Africa and Latin America; now an executive at Singa Consulting
  • Senior policy advisor at the Millennium Challenge Corporation
  • Chief legal counsel at the International Finance Corporation, involved with Public Private Partnership (PPP) and infrastructure projects in the developing world
  • Executive vice president and president of Global Healthcare at the Fortune 500 company, Ecolab
  • Cofounder and current executive director of Partners in Health
  • Pathologist and first director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health, National Institutes of Health

Halimatou Hima Moussa Dioula '10:
Acquiring lifelong skills at Wellesley.

Halima, as she likes to be called, is from Niamey and Arlit, Niger. She worked for the United Nations offices in Niger with UNICEF and is now enrolled in the Master in Public Policy Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. 

"Wellesley was, for me, a perfect life laboratory. I tried everything I could get my hands on: I failed on some initiatives and succeeded in others. I acquired lifelong skills that I use every day. When I sit with partners at the discussion table or converse with a women's group on a mat, I am able to clearly communicate my ideas and propose a road map for achieving our goals. This ability to plan, communicate, and mediate, and create a common vision (in a group of widely different interests) is something that I developed at Wellesley."

Chikote Mibenge Wheat '07, M.D.:
Specializing in dermatology with a global health focus.

Chikoti, now Dr. Mibenge Wheat, is a native of Zambia who lost both parents to AIDS.  "At one time," she recalls, "I wanted nothing to do with HIV. It was too painful. But with time, I realize I can't just run away from something because of my past. I got over that and decided to do something about it instead."

Chikoti focused on AIDS research through a Wellesley internship at Partners HealthCare and worked with the HIV/AIDS vaccine research team while at Duke University School of Medicine. Having also discovered a passion for dermatology with a focus on global health, she is now an intern in internal medicine at Morristown Medical Center and a resident in dermatology at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She also continues to support SOS Children's Villages Zambia, a charity devoted to children who have lost their parents to AIDS.

"When people think of Africa, they often think it is hopeless," she explains. "By telling this story, it will have an effect of showing them there are ways of turning your situation around and making a difference."

Michelle Kang ’13:
Bringing arts to South African youth.

Michelle or "Mische," who is from Los Angeles, California, was awarded a 2013 Davis Project for Peace grant, a $10,000 fellowship to "promote peace and address the root causes of conflict." She will use the funds to lead photography workshops and conduct collaborative multimedia projects with youth in Mamelodi Township, South Africa.

On a June 2012 service trip, Mische first traveled to Mamelodi Township, a largely underdeveloped urban area with high rates of unemployment, violence, and HIV/AIDS near Pretoria. Despite these challenges, Mamelodi boasts a vibrant culture and engaging community whose young people seek better futures. Mische helped co-teach a classroom of lively grade 8 learners and noticed they shared her interest in photography. She found disposable cameras, offered a week of photography to the young enthusiasts. They took their cameras and Mische throughout the township documenting their everyday experiences. At the end of the program she organized an exhibit of their work called "Mamelodi Through Their Eyes." 

She describes her time in the township as life changing and, for her Davis Project, looks forward to creating a collaborative youth art program in partnership with the Mamelodi Initiative, the University of Pretoria, and the U.S. Embassy. The program will involve more photography workshops and filmmaking of various creative modes including poetry, dance, and drama. The goal is to create shareable works of art within the community while emphasizing youth mentorship and empowerment. 

Samantha Malambo ’12:
“Take advantage of Wellesley’s resources!”

“Take advantage of the resources Wellesley has to offer!” advises Samantha with great zeal. “ At Wellesley, I had the opportunity to travel to South Africa to research with a professor, travel to Ghana for a Wintersession class, and travel back to Ghana for a summer internship. While receiving an education in America is definitely a worthy investment, Wellesley has further opened my borders and allowed me to learn from invaluable lessons through travel and dialog in different countries—an invaluable resource.

“I had the amazing opportunity of working in Ghana during the summer. I grew up in southern Africa (between Zambia, South Africa, and Swaziland), so I was really excited when I received the opportunity to work with an organization in West Africa. Nothing can describe the pleasure I experienced in seeing such a different side of my continent. From the work I did, to the people I met, the food I ate, the clothes I had the opportunity to collect, Ghana firmly established itself as one of my favorite countries on the African continent.

“I was privileged to work with some of the brightest minds in the world of development through the Ghana Innovation Marketplace. This project sought to find and finance the most innovative solutions to Ghana’s solid waste management problem. I was both inspired and awed by the intellectual wealth one can find in a community seeking a solution. Not only did this cement my desire to work in development on the African continent, but also it gave me a fifth home.”

Currently, Samantha is working in Lusaka, Zambia, as an associate with Avencion, an international development consulting company

Hanna Tenerowicz ’16:

Filmed documentaries in DR Congo to help raise funds to support women students there.

Hanna, who plans to double major in comparative literature and art history, recently returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she filmed a series of mini-documentaries highlighting the ideas and plans of young women in high school.

She began fundraising for the Muanjadi Organization in high school with her French honors society. The organization pays the yearly tuition fees for girls at the Muanjadi High School in the city of Mbuji-Mayi, Democratic Republic of Congo, focusing on girls who would potentially drop out of school and marry in order to save their families the $75 in tuition fees. She hopes to use the mini-documentaries, entitled Portrait of a Brave Woman, to raise money and implement the ideas proposed by the Muanjadi students. More.

 

 

 

 

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