Posted: July 30, 2012
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Van Otterloo Family Foundation Underwrites Kenyan Students in Public Health Program

Thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Van Otterloo Family Foundation, newly appointed SFS President Dr. Jim Cramer invites five Kenyan college students to join SFS pilot summer session, Public Health and Environment, in Kimana, Kenya.

From left to right: Alga Adhiambo (Great Lakes University of Kisumu), Douglas Mgugi (Moi University), Winnie Nyabenge (Moi University), Joyline Jepkosgei (Moi University), Dancan Odiver (Moi University)

The School for Field Studies was recently awarded $25,000 by the Van Otterloo Family Foundation for scholarship aid to qualified students from Moi University and Great Lakes University of Kenya who participated in the SFS Field Practicum in Public Health and Environment this summer.

“It is a deeply held part of our mission,” says President Cramer, “to share our research with host communities, and put in place a framework for problem-solving that contributes to the increased well-being of that community.” The Kenyan students accepted into the program were nominated by their home universities but needed funding in order to attend.

SFS has for three years run a graduate program in public health in collaboration with the Boston University School of Public Health. In response to a trend of earlier identification of vocational paths among American students, this summer SFS also introduced its own undergraduate session in public health, The SFS Field Practicum in Public Health and Environment. The presence of the Kenyan students among the Americans greatly enriches the experience of each group and provides a unique cross-cultural opportunity.

Professor Caroline Musita of Great Lakes University of Kenya, who teaches both the graduate and undergraduate sessions, points to the importance of “empowering Kenyan households and communities to take charge of improving their own health.”  It is woven into the mission of SFS that not only will American students learn about public health while they are in Kenya, but that the knowledge will remain in the community and empower such change. Through the participation of these five Kenyan students, there is an added likelihood that this will happen.

“It is our goal,” says President Cramer, “to be able to provide scholarships for local students to participate in each of our programs around the globe.”  Because SFS strives to keep costs as low as possible, however, outside grants are an important factor in being able to reach that goal. SFS is extremely grateful to the Van Otterloo Family Foundation for their investment in SFS and in the future of Kenyan public health workers.

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