While many students spend their summer lying on the beach, global studies sophomore Kamra Hakim spent July touring HIV clinics and orphanages in South Africa and Zambia.
Hakim was one of eight college students who received an internship through Chegg for Good and the nonprofit organization ONE. She said her time in Africa was inspiring.
“The internship was fantastic,” she said. “Every day was long but we learned something new. I loved every single program.”
The internship focused on educating the eight American students about life in Africa. Hakim said many people have misconceptions about Africa.
“It’s not all starving children,” she said. “African people are being successful and our foreign aid is working.”
The internship aimed for a listening and learning experience, rather than implementing new policies.
“In order to help, we first had to get to know the people and their issues,” Hakim said. “That way, we had the tools to make an impact.”
Heather Hatlo Porter, manager of philanthropy and executive projects for book rental site Chegg, organized the internship.
She said the goal of the trip was to help students have a greater understanding of the nonprofit work they plan to do following graduation.
“I wanted it to be an amazing (and) transformative experience, so they can become great advocates of change,” she said.
The application process began in Jan., when more than 2,000 students wrote an essay, Hatlo Porter said.
“Kamra’s essay was compelling. She was one of the youngest applicants, yet she was very articulate,” she said. “The way she said why she wanted to go to Africa was very powerful. She is definitely a future leader.”
The 50 students who submitted the best essays were then asked to post a YouTube video explaining why they should be chosen.
The 20 applicants with the most votes flew to the ONE Power Summit in April for interviews.
Eight were selected as the winners of the ‘Are you the ONE?’ Africa Internship.
“Our hope is that, besides the amazing cultural experience the students got, they can help every day to make the world a better place,” Hatlo Porter said. “I have no doubt that will be the case with Kamra.”
Hakim said after the internship she wants to continue working as an advocate for change.
“I’ve always been very big on service,” she said. “I just want to be an instrument of voice for those who can’t speak.”
With this in mind, Hakim joined Changemaker Central this semester.
“It’s an awesome place to be,” Hakim said. “Not many universities have a physical space where students can go and make actual change.”
The trip to Africa was her first time abroad but now she hopes to travel more, Hakim said.
“I don’t feel bound anywhere,” she said. “When you travel you’re out of your comfort zone so you learn about yourself and others.”
Criminal psychology sophomore Brianna Valenzuela is a close friend of Hakim.
She said Hakim took a lot from her experience in Africa.
“Kamra was able to tangibly touch what she wants to do in the future,” Valenzuela said. “I am sure she will make a huge difference. She is a rising leader.”
Hakim said the most valuable thing she learned during the internship is that foreign aid is important and makes a true difference.
“We want to encourage congressmen to support and keep foreign aid,” she said.
Catherine Lynn, a University of Oklahoma student, was one of the other interns in Africa.
“Our dollars go really far in developing countries,” Lynn said. “So much good can come from developing a budget.”
Lynn said she met Hakim at the ONE Power Summit and enjoyed working with her during the internship.
“Kamra is so kind and positive,” Lynn said. “She is so mature and seemed to take so much from this experience.”
Hakim said she is not certain about a career path but she wants to make a difference.
“I don’t know if my career has been invented yet, all I know is there are so many things I want to achieve,” she said. “I really want to have a positive impact on this world.”
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org