William Smith alum Jesse McKenna ’08 was recently named a 2010 recipient of the Sara’s Wish Foundation scholarship, given in the name of Sara Schewe to support safe and rewarding adventures for students when studying abroad. The scholarship will help McKenna pay for her return trip to Tanzania, a country she traveled to upon graduation from Hobart and William Smith.
The summer after her graduation, McKenna went to Tanzania and Kenya and lived in an orphanage. She says she fell in love with East Africa. “The people, the landscape, the language, I just loved it all.” She returned home for three months to earn enough money to return to Tanzania and continue to volunteer at the orphanages and teach at the schools. She realized she no longer wanted to return to graduate school for nursing, but instead wanted to earn a master’s in public health “to improve the health and lives of communities, not simply individuals.”
It was at Hobart and William Smith that McKenna discovered her love for traveling and experiencing other cultures. During her junior year, she studied abroad in Ireland; that summer she traveled to southern Thailand to teach English to primary school students. These two experiences changed her life forever.
“HWS really helped me to grow up and mature,” she says. “HWS expanded my view of what community means and made me realize how important it is to be an active participant in the global community. HWS also instilled the importance of giving back, and of community service.”
Now, McKenna is in her second semester at Boston University’s School of Public Health as an international health concentrator. She also volunteers for the Clinton Health Access Initiative on the Clinical Support Team. In September, she will intern with the Foundation for African Medicine and Education in Karatu, Tanzania. She is currently designing a health education curriculum to implement in their mobile health clinics. The trip will last four months and is being funded in part by the Sara’s Wish Foundation scholarship.
While at HWS, McKenna played lacrosse; she was captain of the team during her junior and senior years. She was also on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee for three years. Her senior year, McKenna was a part of Active Minds (whose mission is to help reduce stigma regarding mental illnesses) and interned at Geneva General Hospital and the Admissions Office.