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Ugandan families wait in line for farm animals given away by Heifer International, where Stanford senior Brenda Mutuma is volunteering this summer.

Brenda Mutuma
Sep 26 2012

Posted In:

Media, Students

Courses offered through the Center for African Studies have increased enrollment, and more Stanford students than ever are working and researching on the continent.

Laura Hunter was 35,000 feet above Africa, watching the sunrise over the place she would call home for the next several weeks. The Stanford junior was about to touch down in Ghana to start a fellowship at a medical clinic treating some of the country's poorest people.

Raised in Seattle and planning to pursue a medical career, the biology major was traveling alone outside the United States for the first time.

Within a few days, Hunter was filling prescriptions, taking measurements of blood pressure, dressing and cleaning sores. Then she started working on a case that has had the biggest impact on her so far – the rehabilitation of a woman who fell from a tree and needs physical therapy to, hopefully, walk again.

"At first, connecting with Assibi was tough … but over time we have been able to make a connection," Hunter, an African Service Fellow, said in an email from Tamale, Ghana. "Forming that one-on-one bond with a patient and watching her improve has been very rewarding."

Hunter is one of dozens of Stanford students looking to the African continent for research opportunities and a chance to serve. Interest in African studies in the past few years has exploded on campus.