Connect Magazine Winter 2019

Page 17


Best foot forward by Mereille Bishop

Some graduate students, after completing their master’s program, find employment near home. Others decide to pursue a doctorate. Emily May chose a slightly different path. Soon after graduating from the Nonprofit Management and Leadership program, she packed up her belongings, sold everything and moved to Jinja, Uganda to join a nonprofit organization. The organization, Sole Hope, treats those affected by a foot parasite known as “jiggers.” The parasite is a sand flea endemic to sub-Saharan Africa that buries itself in human skin. The results are very painful and can cause blood-borne diseases or even lead to death. Sole Hope provides medical clinics, education and shoes to protect bare feet. May had previous experience with the organization. While still a student, she interned with Sole Hope for five months. After returning home, they offered her the full time, paid position of international coordinator. Photos courtesy Emily May/UGA

Sole Hope’s current staff is made up of about 65 people, mostly Ugandans, who work as social workers, nurses, caretakers and shoemakers. May oversees the daily administrative duties, ensuring that her staff have both the funds and resources they need. She also supervises the American interns and manages the organization’s Guest House, where the volunteers reside. “My favorite part of my job is working alongside our Ugandan staff—and I get to be a part of seeing them grow professionally and personally as they care for people suffering from foot-related diseases,” said May. May said the master’s program really helped her to narrow down what she wanted to pursue within the nonprofit sector. Because much of the coursework and projects emphasized improving local nonprofit strategies, she was able to get a feel for nonprofit management in the real world. In April 2018, just prior to graduating, May was named Student of the Year for the Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management and Leadership program. Tony Mallon, director of the Institute for Nonprofit Organizations, praised May’s initiative. “Emily independently landed her international internship with Sole Hope,” he said. “Students who are successful are usually very self-directed….Emily May epitomizes that.”

Connect Winter 2019