By Grace Kamholz, '23
Over winter break, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to St. Bakhita’s Vocational Training Center in Kalongo, Uganda with a group of 13 students, Professor Wendy Angst, and Professor John Onyango. Over the past year and a half, I have been involved with St. Bakhita’s in a variety of different roles, and I am so grateful for finally having the opportunity to visit the school.
I was first introduced to Notre Dame’s partnership with St. Bakhita’s last fall through Wendy Angst’s Innovation and Design Thinking course. In this class, student teams are tasked with ideating, prototyping, and pitching revenue-generating ideas for St. Bakhita to implement. My group pitched the idea of “Bakhita Butter,” which would make St. Bakhita a producer of peanut butter to be sold to other local schools and in the local supermarkets. Outside of this course, I joined the Innovation For Impact club’s finance group where I used the skills I have learned from my finance major courses to assist St. Bakhita’s in reaching its goal of financial sustainability in five (now four) years. Through my participation in the club, I have assisted St. Bakhita with their finances, setting up Quickbooks, and creating a work-study model for the students. My work with St. Bakhita represents the perfect intersection of my finance major and entrepreneurship minor, and I could not be more grateful that I finally had the opportunity to meet some of the people I have been virtually speaking with over the past year and a half.
During our four days at St. Bakhita’s, my classmates and I were busy utilizing the entrepreneurial skills we learned back at Notre Dame to help make a difference at St. Bakhita. We spent time interviewing local community members to try to gain an understanding of how best St. Bakhita’s could serve the local community while also making progress towards achieving the school’s goal of reaching financial sustainability. We made our own Bakhita Butter, tied the local Kalongo team in a soccer game, and climbed Mount Kalongo, all while spending time with the amazing students and staff of St. Bakhita’s.
The time we spent at St. Bakhita’s truly was life-changing, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to travel to Uganda. I especially want to thank the Pulido-Walker Foundation and the Mendoza College of Business for making this trip a reality for me. I also want to thank Wendy Angst for imagining a better future for St. Bakhita’s and giving me the opportunity to help the school reach that future. I am so excited to watch her vision of St. Bakhita unfold over the next four years!