Student advances in competition for African volunteer internship

Global studies freshman Kamra Hakim is one of 50 semifinalists in a competition to travel to Africa for a volunteering trip this summer.

An ASU student’s belief in service has brought her one step closer to a summer internship in sub-Saharan Africa.

Global studies freshman Kamra Hakim is one of 50 “Are you the ONE?” semifinalists competing for a summer volunteering trip to South Africa and Zambia sponsored by Chegg, a textbook rental website.

“Right now I feel like there are a lot of different social issues going on in Africa that people should be made aware of and I want to be the one who can go in and make these changes happen,” Hakim said.

Hakim was searching online for international universities when she found the competition.

She said the experience she’d gain from the volunteering trip fit well with her goals to work as an international peacekeeper, and submitted a 500-word essay detailing what the internship would mean to her.

After being selected from thousands of applicants, Hakim created a short video describing her reasons for applying.

Viewers can vote online each day to determine which semifinalist moves forward.

“A lot of (the other) candidates pursue certain things because it looks good on a resume or because their parents wanted them to do it,” Hakim said, “but I do believe it’s my sole purpose to serve.”

She said she has always felt an innate need to serve other people, whether in her role as her high school’s student body president for two consecutive years or in her position as the event coordinator for ASU’s Coalition for Global Awareness, a local organization supporting diversity clubs on campus.

Fellow global studies freshman Kaitlyn Fitzgerald, CGA founder and president, said Hakim’s drive makes her a valuable member of the club and a strong contender for the internship.

“She’s got a lot of support from us because she’s very proactive and gets everything done,” Fitzgerald said. “Because she has such an optimistic spirit, she could really do a lot if she wins.”

Fitzgerald said she votes for Hakim every day and has encouraged other members of CGA to do the same.

Voting lasts until March 21, and the next phase of the competition starts April 21.

Chegg is working with ONE International, an international advocacy group emphasizing poverty and disease prevention in Africa, to sponsor volunteers in the region.

The 20 semifinalists with the most votes will travel to ONE International’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., attended by the group’s leaders, members of Congress and social entrepreneurs. The conference will culminate with the selection of the eight winners.

Chegg Manager of Philanthropy and Executive Projects Heather Porter said in an email that all the applicants amazed the company.

“It’s exciting to get to see how many amazing student advocates are out there across the country and we hope to be able to provide more opportunities like this,” Porter said.

Hakim plans to continue her community service regardless. She is raising money for another summer volunteering trip to Costa Rica with International Student Volunteers, a national nonprofit service organization.

“I feel as if when you have a certain passion, you should stick with it,” Hakim said. “Because not only are you going to make a career or a life out of that passion, but it’s something that’s going to make you happy as well.”

Reach the reporter at or follow @JMShumway on Twitter.

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