THE STAKES DON’T GET ANY HIGHER
The work of the international team led by President Lynn Pasquerella is a matter of life and death. Western Kenya suffers from both floods and widespread droughts; contaminated water is a common killer; one-third of the area’s population has HIV/AIDS; and starvation kills five people a day in some villages. One desperate mother, convinced that her daughter wouldn’t survive, thrust the child into a startled visitor’s arms, begging the woman to save the daughter’s life by taking her away. The problems are so overwhelming that many people would throw up their hands and walk away in frustration.
But that’s not the kind of person Lynn Pasquerella is. Informed by Kenyan colleague Clarice Odhiambo in 2007 about the vast needs in her home region near Lake Victoria, Pasquerella became a partner with the group Odhiambo founded, the Africa Center for Engineering Social Solutions (ACESS). For three years, Pasquerella has brought students and faculty from colleges and universities to Kenya. They become partners with local talent to improve access to food, water, jobs, and other basic needs.
TACKLING REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS
“I’ve spent my career committed to [political theorist] Benjamin Barber’s notion of colleges and universities as civic missions,”
Pasquerella says. “He talks about not only educating women to make them free but also freeing them to be educable. To do that is to provide them with the tools necessary to gain access to higher education.” How is making water filters related to securing higher education for Kenyan women? As you’ll see, everything is connected.