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ArlingtonMarymount professor returns to homeland in STEM initiative

Marymount professor returns to homeland in STEM initiative

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After growing up in Uganda, Marymount University School of Education professor Dr. Usha Rajdev has often returned to her former country to use her knowledge and experiences to develop sustainable STEM programs and initiatives at the local level.

Now, she’s getting a boost from the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program to make an even more meaningful difference.

With a fellowship from the program, Rajdev will travel to Kampala, Uganda, and collaborate with Professor Joyce Nansubuga of Ndejje University to develop a STEM-based integrated curriculum for that university and four Ugandan secondary schools, with a focus on project-based learning, engineering and design.

Her work will take place during March 2022, and be continued throughout the fall 2022 semester when she is on sabbatical.

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“This fellowship program provides an incredible opportunity to work hand-in-hand with Ugandan professors and fellow faculty at Marymount to promote our Global STEM initiative,” Rajdev said. “By encouraging STEM education in Uganda and sharing new teaching methodologies with African institutions, we will make a long-lasting connection.”

The fellowship will involve projects designed to impact the local community and neighboring villages. Students will design mosquito traps, clear stagnant water in and around their schools, conduct research on how to minimize mosquito infestation and gather data on malaria infections and absentee rates within their own schools with the assistance of their health nurse.

During an international conference scheduled for July 2022 in Uganda, students will then share information and compare and contrast their findings between Ndejje University and the four secondary schools. Ultimately, they will mentor additional students and help lead other schools to join the initiative.

“The research conducted by my counterparts in Uganda will initiate a new collaboration and partnership with other African Diaspora Institutions, and will strengthen the student-teacher exchanges and opportunities for visiting faculty to continue the STEM curriculum,” Rajdev said. “We are tremendously excited to increase exposure to Ugandan institutions while also positively impacting the future of education together with our African partners.”

The initiative is one of 74 projects organized by the fellowship program that are pairing African-diaspora scholars with higher-education institutions and collaborators in Africa to work together on curriculum co-development, collaborative research, graduate training and mentoring activities in the coming months.

The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program, now in its fourth year, is designed to reverse Africa’s brain drain, strengthen capacity at host institutions and develop long-term, mutually-beneficial collaborations between universities in Africa and the U.S. and Canada. It is funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and managed by the Institute of International Education in collaboration with United States International University-Africa in Nairobi, Kenya.

Fellowships match host universities with African-born scholars and cover the expenses for project visits between 14 and 90 days, including transportation, a daily stipend and the cost of obtaining visas and health insurance.

– Marymount University

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