There are so many students who live and breathe the Nourish movement. These individuals devote themselves to not only their chapters and Nourish experience, but also to living a life helping others and changing our world. Over the course of the next few months, we’ll be highlighting some of our incredible students!
Allie Schmidt recently graduated from Syracuse University, where she was a member of a Nourish chapter. Upon her graduation, she was hired at GHN(U), where she will help shape monitoring and evaluation strategies and serve as chair of the Nourish Professionals Committee. Read her story below:
When Allie Schmidt transferred to Syracuse University she wasn’t thinking about a permanent career in nonprofit work. As a supply chain management major, her future career looked to involve a cubicle in the corporate world. However, her outlook changed when she found Nourish International at a student involvement fair.
Prior to her studies at Syracuse, she attended SUNY Broome Community College where she traveled to Haiti for a ten-day service project that sparked her interest in international development work. To Allie, Nourish seemed like a great way to get involved in something she was passionate about while also meeting new friends.
Syracuse’s Nourish Chapter partners with Global Health Network Uganda [GHN(U)], a nonprofit organization anchored in Uganda’s Oyam district that focuses on improving the health of Ugandans by working with the local government on water and sanitation, reproductive health, personal hygiene, etc. Allie had the chance to travel to Oyam as a project intern; there, she helped promote personal hygiene and sanitation at local health clinics and built several piggeries. The piggeries provided food for the locals and income that could be used to buy soap, hygiene products and other health items.
Allie said her most impactful project was her role in establishing a program focused on creating reusable sanitary pads for local girls. Many Ugandan girls are forced to drop out of school after they start menstruating because they lack access to or can’t afford sanitary pads. The project focused on supplying local women with the equipment and training necessary to make sanitary pads that could be sold to local schools and organizations at a low cost. Allie was amazed by the level of enthusiasm shown by all members of the community:
“When we talked to the government officials, most of them are men, …that was interesting just because it’s a lot different as far as cultural and gender separation, the men are more prominent and the women do the work, so to have them excited about that project was cool.”
This past summer, the Syracuse team was able to establish a workspace to improve efficiency and maximize production, ensuring that all local girls have access to hygiene products.
Allie’s work in Uganda sparked her interest in turning her passion for making a difference into an actual career. Like many students, she always believed that “volunteer work” was something people did on the side, saying, “I didn’t make the connection until I went on the project that I could make a career out of something I was passionate about.” She realized that every organization, including nonprofits, needs someone with business skills and knowledge to help grow and sustain their movement. After graduation, she reconnected with Bob Achura, Executive Director of GHN(U), who offered her a job as a partnership adviser. In this role, she’ll act as a liaison to strengthen existing partnerships and reach out to new partners.
Allie is looking forward to combining the skills she learned in the classroom with her passion for international development work to make a real impact on people’s lives:
“I’m excited to be out of school and actually start applying some knowledge… Even though I was fascinated with the business side of things, that’s not what I was passionate about. To be able to fully spend all my time on something I really enjoy and actually be doing some work, I [feel like I] have some sort of purpose.”