Granting New Possibilities

Sometimes you have to step outside your realm of comfort and challenge yourself to explore new ideas before you can secure a true sense of growth and direction in life. Rachel Shaffer, a senior chemistry major, came to this realization with the financial assistance and academic opportunities provided to her through the Reber-Offner Research Grant.

A Minute With...Chris Morton

By Catherine Amoriello ’17

It’s safe to say Lt. Col. Chris Morton, professor of military science, is one of the most well-traveled people on Ship’s campus. 

Having a father serving in the US Army, Morton got an early taste of military life as a self-proclaimed Army brat. He later graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2000. The Oklahoma native’s military career took him to places such as Alabama, Kentucky, Texas, Washington, DC, South Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan. In 2016, Morton settled down in Pennsylvania as the chair of the Military Science Department at Ship. 

What is your favorite part about working at Ship? 

I think my favorite part of the job is interacting with the students. ...I get the opportunity to sort of give back because you get all these opportunities and you just want to be able to give them back to someone else so that they will do a better job than you did. I think because of how important it is, the things we do, it’s really important for us to get it right. So, if I have a little bit of opportunity in my little corner of the world to influence a couple students who are going to be lieutenants to do better than I did, then that’s just a fantastic opportunity. 

What do you do in your free time?

I’m married with two kids, so I love hanging out with family. My kids do sports... my oldest does cross country, both of them swim, (and) they do track and field, so hanging out and doing stuff with the boys. I’m into country music. ...I like to hunt, so I’m in the right state, obviously. Although, I am a rabid Oklahoma Sooners football fan, so if the Sooners are on TV, that’s usually where I am, in front of the TV watching them.

If you could meet anyone, who would it be?

I think I would go meet Bobby Stoops. He just retired as the head football coach of the Sooners and I would just love to sit and talk with him about football. That would be really cool.

What was the last movie you saw in a movie theater?

The last movie I saw in a movie theater was Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I was born in the year the first Star Wars came out, and my dad is a big sci-fi fan, so I’ve kind of always been a sci-fi (fan). I think Star Wars is best viewed in a movie theater. And my kids love it. They think it’s cool, so we took them to the movie.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

It seems like a lot of times these days people can’t just have a discussion without it turning into a really angry disagreement. It’s OK to have a talk about something. I’m like, “Man, did you really have to turn this into something bigger than it is?”

What’s your current favorite television series?

I started watching The Good Doctor. It’s pretty neat because I think it’s interesting to see how, on the one hand, he’s got some disabilities, but he’s really good at medicine, so he’s able to overcome those things because he’s so good at everything else. 

Can you speak a foreign language?

I speak a little bit of German. I’m not like Angela Merkel, but I can have a conversation about what we’re having for dinner and things like that. I lived there when I was a kid. My dad was stationed in Germany, so I guess I lived there for about three years. I took it there, obviously, and took it in high school and in college. I know enough to make my kids think I’m fluent.

Sheetz or Wawa?

Oh, Wawa for sure. I’ve had Sheetz sandwiches but (when we go to our ROTC headquarters in New Jersey) I will not eat until I get to Jersey so I can eat a Wawa hoagie. Gotta get the chicken salad with bacon.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

I would fly. (My son) claims that super speed is better than flying, and it’s not. It’s just not.

Where is the coolest place you’ve been?

Have you ever been to Disney World? You know the princess’ castle, right? Well that castle was modeled after a palace in southern Germany called Neuschwanstein. So, there’s actually a palace that the princess castle is modeled after, and it’s absolutely gorgeous in the Bavarian Alps. 

Catherine Amoriello ’17 is an intern for SU Magazine. 


Steep Adventures, Substantial Rewards

By Katie (Paxson) Hammaker ’93 

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2014 was a great adventure for Michelle Deller ’96, but the biggest thrill was knowing that her efforts would provide clean drinking water for nearby villages. 

That trip inspired Deller to develop Steep Adventures, a Lancaster-based company that organizes adventure challenge trips throughout the United States and around the world.

Deller is not a typical travel agent. Her trips combine adventure with the opportunity to raise money for various humanitarian organizations and projects. “I’ve always been an explorer by nature, always wanted to try new things. All of our participants have a love for adventure. But the idea of tying something good to it, that’s what gives the trip purpose.”

Deller and a group of twenty-four men and women raised $100,000 through the Kilimanjaro climb. The money was donated to Compassion International, which enabled the organization to build two wells and sanitation facilities in two villages in Tanzania. From that trip, she launched Steep Adventures in January 2017.

A sociology major at Ship, she previously worked as an administrative director for a start-up company. The job prepared her to start her own business.

Deller’s close connection to other Ship alumni also has helped grow her business. Deller was a member of the campus Christian Fellowship group. Several former members have provided encouragement and financial contributions toward her fundraising projects.

Steep Adventures’ pilot trip was a six-day, 334-mile bike ride from Washington, DC, to Pittsburgh in July 2016. The trip raised $2,200 for Humankind’s efforts to provide clean drinking water around the world. 

In October 2017, Deller took a group of nine adventurers from Lancaster-based Eastern Mennonite Missions to Peru, where they hiked for sixty-one miles around Ausangate Mountain. At 20,945 feet, it is the highest peak in that region of Peru. The hikers crossed four mountain passes of over 16,000 feet. A highlight of the trek came on day three, when the hikers reached the Rainbow Mountains. Its peaks are naturally covered in beautiful bands of color.

Several participants described the climb as one of the hardest things they had ever done. Altitude sickness and unpredictable weather made the trek even more challenging.

“We saw snow, sleet, hail, rain, sun, and clouds, sometimes all in one day.”

According to Deller, for most trekkers the best part of the trip came at the end when they visited PROMESA, the Peruvian school they had worked to support.

“When possible, I try to arrange interaction with the people who will benefit from the money raised. This creates a connection and makes the trip more personal,” she said. “The students were so grateful. They held an assembly to honor and thank us.” 

The adventurers raised $58,000 for PROMESA. The funds will help finance the construction of a new road and bridge to the rural, mountainside village where construction of the new, larger school will begin.

Steep Adventures treks range from mild to more challenging. A low challenge trip, according to Steep Adventures, could include hikes of up to six miles on rolling hills instead of mountains. A high challenge trip might include bike rides of up to seventy miles daily for multiple days, over mountains with elevations of up to 14,000 feet. Some adventures combine multiple sports, like kayaking and hiking.

Deller will customize challenges based on a client’s request. She’s up for just about anything. “Trekking a volcano in Guatemala, or biking the villages of Vietnam, I’m willing to try it.”

Due to the physically-challenging nature and potential risk, adventure trips are for adults only. Deller maintains an intense training regimen to keep physically prepared for trips, and highly encourages clients to do the same.

“It depends on the grade of challenge as to the physical training required,” she said. “For Peru, I suggested a twelve-week calendar of running, weights, swimming, and cardio activity such as hiking and biking.”

Once the trip and fundraising project are planned, both team and individual fundraising goals are set. Participants then raise the funds from friends, family, coworkers, and others.

Plans are underway for a return trip to Peru as well as trips to Chile and Nepal, each raising funds for a different cause.

“It is my hope that Steep Adventures will connect adventure and mission in a way that changes lives forever,” she said.

For more information, visit 

Katie (Paxson) Hammaker ’93 is the director of development and marketing for the Susquehanna Chorale and is a freelance writer based in Mechanicsburg. 

Frightfully Delightful Entertainment

Exploiting people’s fears is Riley Cameron’s specialty. The 2009 Ship grad makes a living off a unique combination of his love for special effects, his art degree, and a technical background. 

“I had always done special effects from an early age. I was always interested in Halloween,” he said.

Cameron owns Nevermore Productions, a company that develops custom animatronics and set design for nearly every theme park and haunted house attraction in the US as well as many abroad. He’s also applied his talents to the newly opened Steel Key Escape Room in Chambersburg, which leads players through an immersive cold case murder mystery with Hollywood-quality sets.

After tinkering with special effects for haunted houses in high school and college, Cameron realized he found a way to entertain and make a paycheck through his passion. “People were enjoying it, and I could make this a career. I wasn’t just making creatures, I was playing on fears people already had.”

During his senior year at Ship, he scraped together enough money to be a vendor at the TransWorld’s Halloween and Attractions Show, a special effects trade show held each March in St. Louis. His gamble to attend paid off, and his products were well received.

“Animatronic characters always drew me in. I have a very heavy hammer and nail background and then art with technical painting and sculpting. This enabled me to use both aspects of what I liked,” he said. “One of my props was a three- to four- foot spider with realistic motions. Not that there weren’t spiders already, but I figured out how to do it better.”

Every year, Cameron attends the show with four or five new products, takes orders, then fulfills them with his team over the summer. He avoids trends or cheesy characters and sticks with what he knows will indefinitely be a hit—spiders, snakes, creepy mannequins, or dolls. He also offers set design and construction. His products and sets are regularly used at local attractions like Jason’s Woods and Field of Screams as well as in major theme parks such as Six Flags, Busch Gardens, and Kings Dominion.

Cameron recently discovered a new application for his work through the escape room craze. Having built sets for his clients, he decided to open his own. “It’s a great combination of the set design and props.”

Steel Key Escape Room in Chambersburg is a cold case adventure game set in a remote cabin. Groups of two to ten people are challenged to solve a twenty-year-old murder
by scavenging around for clues and making connections before police release the suspect. Cameron said it took about two months to produce a strong storyline and mood.

“It’s been a nice change from just producing a product,” he said. “We put people in an immersive experience.”

The escape room has been a hit with varied audiences, he said. He feels people enjoy the engaging, physical adventure game. “People are so technology-based—on their phone, on the computer—this gets you out of there to physically do something.”

Based on the success of their first venture, Cameron said they are creating a second escape room this spring that features a viral outbreak in an underground bunker. Players must find the anecdote to stop the outbreak. 


An Advocate for Science Education

By John Walsh ’01

The world of science education is in the midst of a major renovation, and Shippensburg University’s Dr. Christine Royce is one of the leaders of this initiative. Royce, who has been a professor at Ship since 2002, was selected as president of the National Science Teachers Association for the next three years.

“The theme for my presidency with NSTA will be associated with being an advocate for science education, and ultimately that includes STEM education,” Royce said.

“I will be involved with the promotion of STEM into the integration of content areas with science educators, and collaboration with technology, all while utilizing engineering and mathematics.”

STEM—or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—is a hands-on, collaborative, problem-solving approach in education. “We have many areas where STEM is already being incorporated at Shippensburg University,” Royce said.

She believes this interdisciplinary work will enhance students’ learning and teaching abilities. The students’ varied backgrounds lead to robust conversations that promote STEM. “The business students are bringing perspective where STEM fits into the business world while the science and mathematics students are bringing perspective on what is coming content-wise and what is found in the laboratories.”

Royce first became interested in science at an early age. She fell in love with nature while in Girl Scouts and became infatuated with earth and space science in school.

“Science was the natural fit, because I have always been interested,” she said.

She brought that curiosity and fascination to her classes, sparking a love of the subject matter in her students.

Royce believes her passion and new appointment with NSTA will greatly impact Ship students now and in the future. “At Shippensburg, I have the opportunity to bring more experiences I will have while visiting different groups across the United States back to the students at our university. Our students will get a broader view of what other schools are doing rather than just having a localized view. This will cause Ship students to have the opportunity to hear and understand different initiatives across the United States.”

Royce knows this will help Ship students connect with their own students on a higher level. “Anytime we can involve students in expanding their knowledge and interact and engage in content-area subjects with STEM, I think that is a good thing.”

She already has witnessed the implementation and use of the STEM program within public education.

“I think with the public school side of it, we need to not focus so much on the outcome of a test and worry about students’ grades. We need to focus on how students are learning the information. Students need to learn the content and also apply it as they set their sights on the future.”

Royce stressed that students will only improve their chances of success and happiness with their careers by utilizing a hands-on, problem-solving approach. “Not all students are going to desire to go to a four-year liberal arts institution. Post-baccalaureate training at career and technology centers have programs that are preparing students for areas in trade, all of which involve STEM anymore.

“We, as educators, know we have to prepare students to begin to grasp opportunities, think critically, use design-thinking approaches, integrate concepts together, and work collaboratively as a team. All of those things fall under what STEM is doing as we look toward the future.”

STEM also is being used more often during after-school and summer programs at all levels of education. Royce believes this is an integral part of developing the problem-solving mentality for students.

“We spend lots of time, energy, and money in our country promoting after-school and summer programs for students. STEM is finding a place in the extracurricular vein as well. This will only help develop our students.”

Royce said a key for Ship students is to have a passion for what and who they chose to teach. “Find an area that you want to teach in terms of grade level and subject. Always keep in mind you teach students first and foremost. You can help students develop a love of learning in that content area with your enthusiasm and passion.

“Students at Ship will benefit by thinking about what they are doing in their classrooms in a broader perspective. The faculty is also incorporating real-life applications of the content in their coursework. Students are then able to start to see where information they need to learn for a test becomes very useful for the future.”

There is no doubt Royce’s promotion of STEM will have a major impact on education today and in the future. 

John Walsh ’01 is a language arts teacher in northeast Pennsylvania. 

Building Self Confidence and Safe Spaces

By Molly Foster ’19

Senior Trent Bauer’s dedication to academics, athletics, and extracurricular activities has led to numerous honors and substantial leadership positions during his undergraduate career at Ship. While Bauer cherishes the recognition he’s received for his efforts, that’s not what he considers his biggest accomplishment.

Surrounded by supportive Ship students and faculty, Bauer developed a newfound confidence. During his sophomore year, Bauer said he came out as gay.

“For years I was so afraid of what people would think about me if I came out. I was so hard on myself,” he said. “I didn’t realize the overwhelming support that I was actually surrounded by.”

While Bauer said he was hesitant to vocalize and take pride in his sexuality, the decision to do so became a blessing that multiplied as he began sharing bits of his struggle with other SU students who were in the same position.

Bauer attributes his altruism to his parents. He also found inspiration through his lifelong role model, Ellen DeGeneres, and her spirit of generosity. Because of his involvement on campus, he developed a close-knit support system and the confidence to value himself for the person he is—both critical factors in his decision to come out.

Ship recruited Bauer to play basketball, which he did through his sophomore year, then he decided to pursue a leadership role in student government. Bauer also participated in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Multi-cultural Student Affairs, and SU New Student Orientation. For his involvement and leadership at SU, he received the Outstanding Sophomore Award at the 2015 Student Life Awards.

Building off his success at Ship, Bauer focused on providing a voice and security to other LGBTQ students on campus. He believed that coming out as LGBTQ should not be a decision rooted in fear, and with that in mind, he proposed a plan for an LGBTQ resource center on campus.

“A resource center for the LGBTQ community is an idea that SU had for many years,” Bauer said. Serving as a pioneer in the LGBTQ resource center’s development, he has conducted surveys on campus to determine what resources SU needs. While the center is still in the developmental stage, what once was a mere idea has materialized into a not-so-distant reality because of Bauer’s efforts.

“Being someone who was questioning who they were as a person—both sexually and as a student—I want the center to be a safe place where students can go and feel like they belong.” Bauer compared the end product to the Women’s Center on campus, which works to advance gender equality through education and assists women who are victims of violence.

The LGBTQ resource center will provide an inclusive space to meet, along with guidance on LGBTQ-related matters and same-sex education, since it is typically bypassed in high school sex education. Similar to the outreach of the Women’s Center, the LGBTQ resource center will focus on the needs of LGBTQ students at SU, but will be a resource that the entire campus community can use.

“The center will also be able to help all students who may have questions like how to deal with a gay roommate or even parents who want to know how to bring up sexuality with their child,” he said.

One of Bauer’s friends wanted to highlight the positive work he’s accomplished. She wrote a letter to Bauer’s role model detailing the charitable work he has done for the LGBTQ community at Ship. While attending a recording of the Ellen DeGeneres Show in October, DeGeneres recognized Bauer’s generosity toward the LGBTQ community when she invited Bauer on stage to award him $10,000. Touched by his endeavors, DeGeneres presented the hefty check as a part of the One Million Acts of Good project.

“It’s actually kind of funny,” Bauer said. “I completely blacked out what was happening. Being in the same room as someone you looked up to your whole life and having them recognize you, it was definitely a life changing experience to say the least.”

Bauer will use part of the money DeGeneres presented him to pay off his student bills, and the rest he will invest into creating an LGBTQ scholarship at SU.

Since his appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Bauer has received words of encouragement via social media from people around the globe. He now realizes that what he is doing matters and is progressively making a positive impact on the larger LGBTQ community.

“There are so many supportive people out there,” he said. “I have received 2,100 messages on social media thanking me for what I am doing.”

After graduating from SU in the spring, Bauer said he will look into graduate schools. He plans to stay involved in the center’s development in whatever way he can and continue to make strides toward a lasting impact on the LGBTQ community.

“I really hope that this shows if any student is passionate about something, to pursue it wholeheartedly. If you want to see something change, change it.”

Molly Foster ’19 is an intern for SU Magazine. 

Behind the Scenes With... Carlesha Halkias

Shippensburg University is like its own little city, said Carlesha Halkias, who accepted the position as Ship’s executive director of equity, inclusion, and Title IX this summer. “It’s very self-sustaining, with its own police department, own dining services, and more.” 

Her role in her new “city” on campus has many similarities to her previous job as director of risk management and affirmative action for the City of Harrisburg. She said both positions provide the opportunity to address systemic issues that can make the community feel less welcoming or inclusive.

At Ship, Halkias has a rather broad job description. Her priorities often are dictated by what happens on campus, what complaints are filed, assuring that the university is in Title IX compliance, and updating and amending policies on, for example, discrimination or sexual harassment. Although much of her work is reactive, she looks forward to developing several proactive initiatives to support a more diverse and inclusive campus environment.

“There are a lot of really hard working and dedicated people who love this university,” she said. “So many people have reached out to me to offer their work and support. They are clearly invested in this university.”

Being its own little “city” has its advantages and disadvantages, Halkias said of Ship. In the heart of the Cumberland Valley on its own 200-acre swath of countryside, it can be easy to tune out life beyond the borders of campus. She encourages the campus community to get out and embrace the world around them.

“There’s a tendency for people to self-segregate. That’s true anywhere, including on campuses.” She said people also have a tendency to believe that certain events or subjects geared toward a particular group or cause are not meant for them. One of her first initiatives tackles that perception.

“Let’s not make people go to diversity—let’s take it to them,” she said.

Halkias found inspiration through a series of videos called “Talk to an Iraqi.” The videos show a young Iraqi man sitting at a small stand in a public setting answering questions about his country and culture from anyone who stops by. Taking this one step further, Halkias is developing something akin to a lemonade stand that would appear on campus with a representative of a certain demographic. Anyone could approach the stand and talk to the person about their culture, race, affiliation, preferences, etc.

“This promotes honest and challenging conversations in a safe space,” she said. “Sometimes people have trouble with the process of taking on diversity, and this puts it in a bite-sized format. I want people to be there on their own terms.”

Halkias also is keenly aware of the ongoing issues with race and free speech nationwide and on college campuses. As an adjunct law professor at Penn State Dickinson Law School, she is participating in a symposium this fall on the First Amendment to specifically navigate these issues in academia.

“There are constitutional issues that have to be addressed and not ignored. How do you address the discomfort that some of the student body is feeling?”

Although she feels that the political atmosphere may have increased or elevated racial issues over the last year, she believes that these discussions are necessary. “It takes more effort to pretend than to address the issues head on,” Halkias said. “I’m hopeful that the veneer is truly off. The work that’s been done has laid the groundwork for future generations.” 

Strengthening a Passion Abroad

A summer service-learning opportunity provided junior Sarah Bendekovits with the perfect blend of international travel and volunteer work. “Service learning is like an internship with reflection. I love to volunteer, so this was perfect for me.”

Bendekovits’ summer plans came into focus after she attended a study abroad fair on campus last year. The psychology major, who minors in disability studies, has volunteered with the Miracle League of the Lehigh Valley since she was twelve. Finding an educational opportunity that combined her desire to travel abroad with her longtime passion for volunteering was a win-win.

During the application process, she had to choose the top three organizations for which she’d like to volunteer. She knew she was headed to Ireland, but found out last minute she received her first-choice organization, the Galway Autism Partnership.

“Some people hate working with kids with autism, but I love it. The kids are so good to work with,” she said.

Bendekovits headed to the National University of Ireland in Galway and said she immediately felt comfortable with the other students in her suite. For each summer camp, she and her roommate were tasked with planning field trips and activities for different age groups.

At first, it was a challenge to plan activities for people they hadn’t met in a place they didn’t know, she said. She worked with her roommate when planning activities to identify the interests, fears, and goals of the people attending each camp based on their applications. They also quickly discovered the culture was much more relaxed and less structured than camps and activities back home.

“We learned to go with the flow.”

In Ireland, Bendekovits found that fewer programs existed to support children with autism and their families. Each camp included about ten children, and new children started every week. She implemented camp activities Monday through Friday from about 10:00am to 1:00pm, then planned for the next program until about 5:00pm each day.

“At the Miracle League, the challenge there was communication—some children were deaf, some had muscle issues, some arthritis. But I never had a kid throw a temper tantrum,” she said. “In Ireland, we’d do a craft, play outside, watch a movie and, for some kids, everything was ‘No!’ Some needed a push, then liked the activity.”

Bendekovits and her roommate developed different ways to work with children who found it hard to communicate or who showed aggression. The camp had a sensory room that was quiet, and some children preferred to stay there all day. Other children responded to positive reinforcement. For example when they faced challenging situations with one girl, she responded well to chocolate.

“You have to have so much patience. It could take thirty minutes to get a kid in a taxi,” she said.

“For parents, this is a full-time job for them that’s stressful. ...To see their kid count to ten one day would make parents so happy. They didn’t know what to expect.”

Many of the skills Bendekovits applied came directly from what she had learned in class. For example, she developed several art therapy projects, such as discussing how color can express feeling. One of the courses she took at Ship called Exceptional Child looked at the symptoms of different disorders, which better prepared her to develop therapy methods that addressed specific needs.

“I was able to apply the things I learned in the classroom,” she said. “If I were to graduate without an experience like this, I’m not sure I’d be ready for the workforce.”

Outside of camp, Bendekovits and her roommates had plenty of time to sightsee, hitting most of Ireland, Iceland, Amsterdam, and London. She appreciated the ease of public transportation and enjoyed the different cuisines.

The experience was all that she’d hoped it would be—she received six credits for class, earned almost 300 volunteer hours, and took her first trip abroad. She returned home inspired to get more involved on campus through events like the Special Olympics and a big buddy program at the Grace B. Luhrs University Elementary School.

“It was hard to come back because I developed such good relationships with the kids. Being in an atmosphere where I was applying what I learned and then coming back to sitting in a classroom can be hard.”

The trip helped her focus on what she’d like to do after graduation. Bendekovits plans to attend graduate school, then work with children with autism as a child life specialist. “I’d like to work with families and kids and help them to cope with these challenges.”

Returning Home to Help

By Catherine Amoriello ’17

While many students and faculty busied themselves this summer with trips to the beach and relaxing vacations, one professor made a trip across the Atlantic to enjoy a different type of summer getaway.

Dr. Joseph Zume, associate professor of geography and earth science, forfeited the majority of his summer vacation to participate in the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program. The program provides African-born scholars from the United States and Canada the opportunity to
return to Africa and work on research projects, graduate student teaching/mentoring, and curriculum co-development, according to its website. As a Nigerian native, Zume felt compelled to apply.

“I had nearly my entire education in Africa,” he said. “It takes a lot of investment in someone to get a good education. My country invested a lot in me. So, in what way can I give back to this society that invested in me? That is the motivation. Any opportunity for me to give back is a very welcome opportunity.”

Zume attended school in Nigeria all the way up to the master’s level, receiving his bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Jos and his master’s degree in applied geophysics from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. A chance meeting with a professor from the US one summer in
Nigeria eventually led Zume to travel across the Atlantic to receive his doctorate in geography from the University of Oklahoma.

After living in the US for sixteen years, Zume wanted to take what he learned from his teaching experience in the US and share his knowledge and expertise with African universities.

“I was very excited to get the opportunity to go back and contribute. In our department here (at Shippensburg University), we like to give a lot of outdoor exposure (and) experience to our students. You learn a lot hands on. That’s not the case in most African universities.”

Zume centered his proposal for the fellowship on hydrology after identifying a need for a field station at the University of Cape Coast, in Ghana. He applied for the program in April 2016, received his letter of award in November 2016, and six months later, was on his way to spend the months of May and June in Ghana. Being named a Carnegie fellow is no easy feat, and Zume prides himself on having been selected for the program.

“The proposal is reviewed vigorously by a review committee at the Center for International Education in Washington, DC,” he said. “It’s a very competitive process. Hundreds of people applied, and only seventy were chosen across the US and Canada.”

Zume’s goal for his trip was to help the University of Cape Coast develop a curriculum that entailed more hands-on learning and fieldwork. “The project had to do with just initiating a step, no matter how small, that will gradually change the classroom tradition in African universities. It’s the University of Cape Coast, so the university is right on the Atlantic coast, which is a perfect opportunity to introduce students to hands-on learning in this coastal environment.”

Coastal locations are projected to have the highest vulnerability to climate change, according to Zume, and providing African students the opportunity to do fieldwork will better prepare them to help their societies develop innovative adaptations to climate change.

Zume knew the cost of developing a field station would amount to between $50,000 and $200,000, which is why teaching the faculty at Cape Coast how to properly raise funds was the first crucial step.

“The second workshop (I gave) was based on research. How do you write grants? How do you write very persuasive grants that become successful? From there I put together a grant writing team. We started developing a grant to look for money. The more money we get, the more we can do.”

Although Zume is now back in the US, he is still diligently working with the grant writing committee in Cape Coast by way of virtual meetings. They plan to submit the grant to the Rockefeller Foundation, and if it fails there, they will try to submit it to another agency in Europe.

“This is a partnership that is going to go on for quite some time. We’re proposing a three-year grant implementation, which means if we become successful and our grant gets funded, I will be going to Ghana every summer for the next three years until the field sites become fully operational,” Zume said. “I see myself working there longer, because I am personally interested in climate change. I will be interested in using that data for personal research (and) collaborating with local faculty there for many years to come.”

Zume credits the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program with giving him the opportunity to give back to the continent that molded him, and encourages other African-born scholars to take advantage of the opportunity as well.

“The Carnegie program is doing something marvelous for the African continent. Anything that mobilizes us to go and give back, to help bring that place up, it’s a very noble goal. I think the Carnegie is doing a great service. Any African-born faculty who has confidence in what they do should apply to go help out.”

Catherine Amoriello ’17 is an intern for SU Magazine.