Posted: January 28, 2010
By Magdalena Georgieva '10
A summer internship with the philanthropic organization the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) gave Springfield native Roshonda Degraffenreid FP’10 her first opportunity to travel abroad. In June, she crossed the Atlantic Ocean for the first time to help the Ghana-based organization empower African women and advocate for their rights.
“After this experience I realized I want to continue working in philanthropy, whether it’s in fundraising or public advocacy,” said Degraffenreid, who is a psychology major with a minor in economics.
Degraffenreid learned about the internship through the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives and decided to expand her knowledge of issues related to poverty and single women and mothers. This experience enabled her to focus on initiatives designed to improve women's lives internationally.
“AWDF is more than just a grant-making foundation. They are a league of women working to stimulate economic, social, and equal rights for African women,” Degraffenreid said.
At the AWDF office, Degraffenreid was part of the information production and communications team. She edited reports and other publications for internal and external audiences, and assisted with the production of promotional materials. She also transcribed CDs of the African Feminist Forum and attended special events, conferences, and meetings with the organization’s executive director, founders, and other members.
“My experience transcended just being an intern to being a part of a family, motivated to improve the lives of women,” said Degraffenreid about the AWDF community. She received insightful advice, mentoring, and coaching from the powerful women involved with the AWDF, including executive director and cofounder Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi and director of programs Sarah Musaka.
"The whole internship was influential and enhanced my Mount Holyoke experience in a transformative way,” Degraffenreid said.
Degraffenreid was the 2009 recipient of the Legacy of Diversity Endowed Fund. The fund provides scholarship and support for internships and study abroad for ALANA students.