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Finding Inspiration

University of Indianapolis students are giving back not just in the central Indiana community but all over the world. A group recently traveled to rural Ghana after raising funds to build a school and to provide electricity, desks, chairs, shelving and books through the Precious Words initiative.

“No two days were alike while in Ghana,” said Laura Ledgerwood ’18 (applied psychology and Honors College). “From walking through rural villages and being tossed around in the van for hours at a time to being swarmed with hundreds of children, our days were full of adventure.”

Led by Jodie Ferise, associate provost for international engagement and shared governance, the students worked with children and teachers in classrooms during their visit. Ferise has led students on service-learning trips to Ghana since 2011, when she launched the Precious Words Project, an initiative to promote literacy in
the country.

A donor covered the cost of building the school for the 2017 project, while Ferise and her students raised additional funds to furnish the school. Over the years, Ferise and her students have raised money for educational projects such as a new kindergarten, junior high school, a computer lab and several libraries.

“Many of the donors were faculty, staff, students and alumni of UIndy, including many past travelers on our Ghana trips,” Ferise said. “So many students who have gone with us before have continued to invest in these projects.”

For UIndy students, Ghana can be an eye-opening experience.

“In the first school we served, the kids did not even have their basic needs met, such as food and water. And, $30 per year is withholding many children from a chance at an education,” said Ledgerwood, who plans to focus on solutions for Ghanaian education in her capstone and Honors College projects.

“I don’t have to wait for graduation to start making an impact and bringing about change in the world!”