Inside SMART Africa

Student experiences working with the ICHAD/SMART Africa center

“I had no prior work experience before I started working at ICHAD. However, I was excited for the journey ahead and was ready to put in the work to grow as an employee. What I found at ICHAD was beyond what I had expected at a place of work; I found a home and joined a family. The entire team welcomed me with open arms and supported me as I navigated my new roles. To top this off, I was presented with various opportunities for professional growth including training offered by the University and supporting the grant writing process at the center. I have also been mentored in the manuscript writing process and have worked on several writing projects, for which I am grateful. Dr. Fred mentored me as I applied for a diversity supplement grant under one of ICHAD’s studies. The Center directors were very supportive as I worked on this application, and they celebrated with me once we received the notice of funding from the NIMH for the supplement. This support was sustained as I started my research training and prepared for fieldwork under the supplement. They still encourage me to pursue my dreams to this day. I found warmth, working with my colleagues here and I will surely miss my time at ICHAD. I am happy that I got to make such wonderful memories while working at the Center and I will keep those memories with me always.”

–  Joelynn Muwanga, Research Assistant

“I’ve learned a lot from my experience with ICHAD so far, but the thing I’ve been reflecting on most in recent weeks has been the idea of the ICHAD family. Even before I started as an MPH student at the Brown School, I was made to feel welcome on campus by ICHAD staff. Since then, I’ve built wonderful connections with my coworkers who are consistently kind, talented, gracious, and uplifting. This spirit of care and community has continued throughout the time in which we’ve worked from home. I am immensely grateful to be counted among those students, staff, fellows, and partners, past and present, and around the world, who are part of this ICHAD family.”

– Lexa Stoppel, Masters Research Fellow

“Completing an MSW as a Masters Research Fellow with ICHAD has been a rewarding, exciting, and fulfilling experience for me with the opportunity of working with professional academic researchers as well as other students who have an enormous amount of knowledge. I am honored to be involved with the Kyaterekera Project where I had the opportunity to improve research skills by conducting literature reviews, data management and coordination skills among others. My fellowship is more than just a job but it is an experience that inspires and prepares me for professional development as a social worker. I enjoy my work though it was tough sometimes in the first year to work, do practicum together with class assignments; I had to organize myself with a clear working plan and take in one day at a time. I miss the in-person work environment with the ICHAD family due to COVID-19 but hopefully, this tough moment will come to an end soon.”

– Rashida Namirembe, Masters Research Fellow