As an intern with PED this past June and July, Western Michigan University student Hannah Heenan has become more confident answering the inevitable question: what will you do after you graduate?
“Interning not only gave me insight into working with a nonprofit, but it emphasized for me the positives and negatives of community development,” she said. In addition to earning college credit towards her capstone class, Hannah has also seen growth in her passions and interests as a result of her time in Uganda. “It offered me the opportunity to get a taste of a possible career path and it definitely impacted my ideas for the future.”
While in country, Hannah worked to interview PED staff and teachers at PED partner schools to collect data on the organization’s volunteer program and determine ways to strengthen it. “As an intern with PED, I loved having the opportunity to travel through different regions of Uganda and have an immersive experience,” she explained.
When she first started exploring a global studies major in college, Hannah was fascinated by the different ways Africa and its countries were discussed.
“We studied Africa and learned about the cycle of dependency that Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) all too often perpetuate.” Hannah’s commitment to learning more led her to pursue studying abroad in Kenya during 2013, which ended quickly with the terrorist attacks taking place in the country at the time.
Hannah wanted to return to East Africa to avoid subscribing to what she calls “the single story,” so she began exploring internship opportunities with various non-profits. She then found PED.
“I aligned with PED’s emphasis on sustainable development. It’s not often that you find a nonprofit promoting that - PED has a very attractive model for an international nonprofit.”
She compares her brief experience in Kenya to her one in Uganda, appreciating the sense of community and family PED has built. “I really enjoyed going to work with Drew and Emily and their support with integrating into the culture. Those relationships helped me to identify with those around me and ease the transition.”
With one year left in her undergraduate career, Hannah has returned to the US with a better sense of self and the ability to communicate more clearly her desired plans for the future.