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NDA alum Skylar Schultz Learning About Healthcare, Kenya and Herself Doing Internship


Skylar Schultz, a Notre Dame Academy alumni, swapped the harsh Midwest winters for the tough East African heat to complete a healthcare internship in Kenya. 

Schultz graduated from NDA in 2022 and is currently at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, majoring in global health. She was aware of the University of Wisconsin’s International internship programs and found out that the university would be fully funding the internships for the Spring 2024 semester. She knew she “had to give it a shot.” 

The internship works with Health by All Means and the Nikumbuke Project (a Kenyan NGO), which focuses on rural healthcare, women’s health and community health, all of which are keen interests of Schultz. 

“It was a perfect mash-up of all the reasons I became interested in healthcare in the first place and an opportunity to see and support them firsthand,” said Schultz. 

While no two days look the same for Schultz, she usually starts her day by teaching a short theory lesson about English literature or business skills at the Nikumbuke Project’s vocational tailoring school. Her afternoons are spent helping Health by Motorbike, where she rides by motorbike to one of 20 women’s groups through rural Kwale County. She credits the many females involved with the project for their work in making it all happen. 

“It’s been so fascinating to see how they [the women] are able to get things done around here and the dedication they have to improving the lives of people in these communities,” said Schultz. 

One of the largest barriers Schultz has faced was the language barrier. Although English is one of Kenya’s national languages, Schultz says it’s still difficult to know she’s “missing out on some connections and conversations” due to language barriers. She is currently learning the language and hopes to continue her language education long after her internship ends. 

Schultz has struggled to put cultural differences into words. While she emphasizes that she’s only seen a fraction of Kenya, she has noticed that the people she works with are more flexible and adaptable than those back home. She says that the individuals there are responsive to the needs of their audience and people and have the flexibility to adapt to these needs.  

“In our time here, whenever any obstacle or challenge or time conflict or anything has come up, the people here at Nikumbuke have been able to adapt and change course with apparent ease, even with very minimal heads-up or time to react,” reflected Schultz. 

She has also enjoyed getting to see how religion plays a role in the culture. In the area she resides, there is a mix of Islam and Christianity, which is expressed through peoples’ mannerisms, dress, music, sermons and much more. She even attends a Catholic mass, and while she understands limited Swahili, she is blown away by the choir and the beauty of the mass. 

“It was definitely harder without the words to the prayers in the background every time, but my NDA training came in handy for figuring out when I needed to sit/stand,” said Schultz. 

Schultz hopes to enter medicine in the future but is uncertain about the exact field. Regardless, she knows she wants to take a hands-on approach and make an impact on people’s health and their experience with the healthcare system. 

“Right now, what I really want to do is understand the human body to the best of my ability and then share that knowledge with other people in a way that makes sense to them,” said Schultz.  

She would “absolutely” recommend the internship to anyone considering applying. While she says the rural setting isn’t for everyone, overcoming this obstacle has made the experience more worthwhile and impactful. She has loved seeing the work that the Nikumbuke Project has done. 

“I’ve loved being able to peek behind the curtain and get an understanding of how a non-profit like this really functions and what it takes to keep the ball rolling,” said Schultz. 

Schultz’s internship experience has changed her as a person and even her own perceptions of herself. 

“It’s pushed the limits of what I thought I could do in many arenas that I’d never even thought to try before. I will forever be grateful I was given this opportunity and that I was able to fully take advantage of it,” said Schultz.



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About the Contributor
Frannie Wied
Frannie Wied, Staff Writer
Sophomore Frannie Wied is a ballet enthusiast who is a lover of all things to do with the arts. She takes interest in social justice and exploring new cultures and locations through traveling. She has a special curiosity in marine biology and environmental affairs. She also has a passion for unbiased journalism and reporting the truth.

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    AuntieMar 15, 2024 at 8:00 am

    So proud of your adventurous spirit and your love of learning.