Celebrating Ten Years of Impact: OSD Alumni
2017 Gilman Scholar
Chanel's social work courses were supplemented with experential learning opportunities while in Tanzania. In one instance, she visited an orphanage where she learned how they operated in Tanzania.
Chanel Watkins ('18)
Chanel Watkins, of Louisville, spent the summer before her senior year globetrotting. First in Trinidad and later in Tanzania, she enriched her academic studies in social work through study abroad. Chanel was one of seventeen WKU students selected as a Gilman Scholar during the 2016-17 academic year. Funded by the U.S. Department of State, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship provides up to $8,000 for undergraduate study abroad programs.
Chanel studied in Tanzania with other Kentucky students through a Kentucky Institute for International Studies program led by Dr. William Mkanta, interim head of the WKU department of public health.
“The experience helped me realize no matter where I am I can always be my complete self,” Chanel said.
In addition to exciting excursions, like a safari and scuba diving in the Indian Ocean, Chanel studied Swahili, visited a spiritual healer, learned from a local hospice team, and volunteered at orphanages in Tanzania.
"It takes a village to raise a child,” Chanel said. “The Gilman Scholarship helped make it possible for us to be a part of that very village!"
Chanel’s service learning course created an ongoing project called Project Rafiki. The project is collecting monthly donations through different churches, groups, and other organizations in the United States for WAMATA, a community-based organization that offers services to those living with HIV/AIDS.
Chanel graduated from WKU in May 2018 with her bachelor’s degree in social work. She plans to pursue graduate study and a career as a social worker serving underprivileged children.
Chanel reflected on her study abroad experience in a poem:
I will never forget how it felt to be one with another, to go without my
wants, to bear fruit with others. I will never forget the kangas, the Swahili, the streets with no stop lights
and how they almost killed me! I will never forget the sunsets, the private islands, the art, and most of all
I will never forget how the people forgot their everyday struggles. The people taught me that you’re dealt
the hand God gives you, you can’t return them so live and play your hand the best way you can.
I will never forget Africa.