Stephanie Czajkowski ’08 is currently a Peace Corps volunteer serving in Burkina Faso, West Africa. She is trying to raise approximately $14,000 toward the construction of a library for the community. Czajkowski notes the lack of a place to study and focus on academics impedes female students, in particular, from advancing to high school or setting goals for themselves beyond the roles of wife and mother. Among other benefits, the construction of a library with solar-powered lights that would stay on during the night would give students a new opportunity to study and improve their French language skills to the level necessary to pass the entrance examination for high school.
The situation in the village was described by Czajkowski in a letter that she sent to friends and family, in the hopes of raising enough money to build the library: “Being in a small village many students, especially girls, feel that remaining in the village and having children and taking care of a husband and home is all their lives will be,” she wrote.
“I asked my 6th-grade girls what their goals were in life last year. None of them had ever thought about it, let alone been asked that question before, and many of them didn’t think they could amount to much. This attitude and mindset contributes to the multiple 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th grade pregnancies last year, a trend I’m told is not new. With a library, my girls could have an extra space to come together and work on their studies, which will increase their love of learning along with their self confidence, self esteem, and self worth – helping to decrease the amount of young pregnancies and instilling an attitude that will enrich their lives forever.”
While in Burkina Faso, Czajkowski has dedicated her time to improving the health and education of the women and children in her village and in Burkina at-large. She has taken every opportunity to reach out and improve the lives of young girls through community involvement and service including: working in the maternity ward of the village clinic; organizing youth conferences aimed at empowering and supporting Burkinabé children and adolescents; planning a basketball camp where girls can participate and benefit from the lessons of self-confidence, discipline, and achievement inherent in sports; and volunteering time with the Peace Corps’ Burkina Faso “Peer Support and Diversity Network,” a program that trains volunteers to act as supportive sounding-boards and empathetic listeners to their peers who may be struggling with aspects of their service.
Donations for the library can be made online.
While she was at HWS, Czajkowski was a member of the Laurel Society, Writing Colleagues, and the Herons Basketball team. She had many achievements including receiving the CRC First Year Chemistry Achievement Award and awarded the Evaleen C. Harrison ’19 Scholar-Athlete Award. She graduated with a B.S. in chemistry cum laude, having minored in women’s studies.