After graduating from Saint Mike’s with a double major in Anthropology/Sociology and Spanish, Professor Kusserow suggested I go volunteer at Malayaka House orphanage in Uganda. This experience was absolutely life changing and eye-opening. Through this work and the amazing people I met, I learned so much about the world, Uganda, and myself. When I returned I became very involved and interested in Special Education. I went back to Lesley University and earned my Masters in Special Education with a specialization in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Since, I have co-founded an NGO called “embraceKulture”, working to break down the stigma and abuse of people with disabilities in Uganda through teacher trainings, vocational training, and community outreach. We are passionate about researching the Ugandan cultural views of disability, to make sure the projects are culturally relative, using local resources and adaptations, and Ugandan-drive, in hopes that the models will be more accepted and sustainable.
In my time living in Uganda I also started playing rugby for fun, which grew into being involved in creating an organization with four other ruggers called, “Rugby Tackling Life”. This organization helps provide women and girls the opportunity to play rugby, getting them into schools, and educating and empowering them to be able to make informed decisions for their life in regards to education, occupation, marriage, having a family, etc. We are working with over 2,000 women and girls right now, and are constantly expanding. We have recently started roasting and selling our own “COOFFEEE” to help with funding.
Though at the time I wasn’t sure where it would lead, the connections I made at Saint Mike’s opened doors of possibility I didn’t know existed, and my education in Anthropology at Saint Mike’s has set the foundation for this work, and both have allowed me to follow my dreams here in Uganda.