FALL 2012 | St. Lawrence University Magazine
Micro-finance Innovator
Kathleen Colson ’79
KSP spring ’78)
Founder and CEO, The BOMA Project
My experience with the KSP gave me personal insights
into Africa and Kenya. The constant reports of war and
tribalism and AIDS did not reflect the extraordinary
spirit of the people and the young nation that I came
to know. So I started raising money for organizations
in Africa, began a safari company in 1986, and, after
years of guilty pleasure surrounding the surreal experi-
ence of safari, decided to start my own development
organization, the BOMA Project. We focus on poverty
alleviation through a micro-finance program that builds
self-confidence in people’s ability to change the circum-
stances of their lives and communities. The program is
totally led by local people.”
Water Bearer
Ned Breslin ’88 (KSP fall ’87)
CEO, Water For People (Africa and India)
The KSP forced me out of my comfort zone. I was
asked hard questions, and I was allowed to find my way.
I was exposed to water issues, which have become my
core focus, and so I was hooked.”
Habitat Advocate
Kathleen Fitzgerald ’92 (KSP spring ’91)
Director of Land Conservation, African Wildlife
After my KSP semester I wanted to return to be a part
of Africa’s dynamism, diversity and rapid change, but I
also wanted to make a meaningful contribution. I have
lived in Kenya since 2008 and travel throughout the
continent for my work. Africa continues to hold enor-
mous potential and I am grateful that the KSP program
introduced me to it.”
Food Facilitator
Christopher Burns ’95 (KSP fall ’93)
Economic Growth and Agricultural Development
Adviser, USAID
My entire KSP experience establishedmy desire to work
and live in Africa. Professors like Paul Robinson, David
Lloyd and Celia Nyamweru provided the theoretical and
practical knowledge that allowed me to pursue my career.
My KSP mates made every day a unique experience.
And my homestay families throughout Kenya showed
me the power and scope of resilience and indigenous
knowledge. I still visit my family in Nairobi.
The KSP is a phenomenal opportunity and I am for-
tunate to have been able to participate in it. My career,
to this day, benefits immeasurably from the experience.”
Health Care Initiator
Sara Wilhelmsen ’01 (KSP spring ’00)
Senior Program Officer, Management Sciences for
While living in Kenya and learning about life in a de-
veloping country, I found a passion that inspired me to
pursue a career in international development. The expe-
rience created an excitement I hadn't felt in any other
field of study. It led me to graduate school in public
policy and international economic development, work
with USAID in Washington, D.C., and now a career
dedicated to improving health in Africa, to which I re-
turn often.”
Brendan Hayes ’04 (KSP spring ’03)
Banja La Mtsogolo (a Malawian reproductive health-
care non-government organization), Projects Direc-
I finished the KSP having had a great first experience
in Africa. This kept me interested and open-minded
about returning.
I also had my first encounter with the AIDS epidemic
while on my KSP internship at a fishery in Kisumu. I
was conducting community interviews for a paper I was
writing about the Nile perch, and the beach chairman
interrupted us at one point and said something like,
This is important, but our biggest problem is AIDS.’
He then reeled off the names of all the people from his
village who had died from AIDS. When I had a chance
to work on an HIV prevention project with the Peace
Corps, that moment played a big role in my decision to
accept it. I’m now in my sixth year working in public
health in southern Africa.”
Student andTeacher in One
Patrick McLaughlin ’05 (KSP fall ’04)
Ph.D. Candidate, Drexel University
One thing I learned very quickly on the KSP is that
there is so much good, meaningful work to be done in
Africa, and that even a small effort can have dramatic
positive effects. The KSP fundamentally changed the
way I thought and helped me figure out what I wanted
to do with my life. I was interested in ecology and con-
servation, and there are few places better to explore ei-
ther topic than East Africa.
Today I am pursuing a graduate degree in ecology. I
spend six months every year in West Africa doing re-
search and working with a conservation organization,
and in the summer I lead high school student expedi-
tions focused on wildlife and conservation. The KSP
helped form the academic foundation and personal
inspiration that have allowed me to pursue these oppor-