USF professor honored at White House

Courtesy photoWanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg

The professor in the politics department at the University of San Francisco is also the founder of Akili Dada, a leadership incubator for girls and young women in Kenya. Earlier this year, the White House honored the Kenya native as one of 14 “Champions of Change” with roots in East Africa.

What was it like being honored at the White House? Incredible! For me, it’s a life-defining experience.

Tell me about your work with Akili Dada. What we’re doing is building up and investing in a core of African women. We start out with teenage girls who are the brightest in their country. They have already started doing community service, and we essentially enable their ability to continue doing that. We provide scholarships. We make sure that they are networked.

How does your work in Africa intersect with your academic work and teaching? For me, they are built into each other. The ways we structure Akili Dada’s interventions are really informed by feminist studies. The other side of it is, I bring so much of my experience with Akili Dada into the classroom. I think it’s important for young people, especially in America, to understand the rest of the world, especially Africa.

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