After traveling the world and becoming a global citizen as a Chapman student, Julia Smith, political science ’15, landed an opportunity as a global advocate for Mama Hope, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that works to build thriving, sustainable communities, primarily in developing nations. Currently, she is serving in Uganada for three months to help local leaders empower local women and their communities.


Chapman University: Tell me about your career – what do you do on a day to day basis?

Julia Smith: In pursuing my interest in international development, I am currently partnered with Mama Hope, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, serving as a global advocate fellow. Mama Hope’s Global Advocate program is a nine-month professional training program for social entrepreneurs. In February, I traveled to Budondo, Uganda to spend three months living and working at The Budondo Intercultural Center, where I am learning from and working alongside local leaders to accomplish their dreams of creating self-sustaining programs that empower local women and the community. I have committed to raising at least $20,000 to champion this cause and I would love Chapman University’s support to reach this goal. With your help, we can ensure that the Budondo community continues to prosper and ignite positive change. You can donate here.

The Budondo Intercultural Center strives to create a self-sustainable community through entrepreneurial growth. Its primary program, The Suubi Health Center, provides safe and accessible healthcare to a region of 56,000 people who would otherwise not have access. In the past quarter, 2,885 people accessed healthcare services and Suubi conducted five community outreach days. Two-hundred and seven women accessed antenatal services, 1,193 people partook in family planning sessions, and 42 safe deliveries were carried out. These have been some of the community’s many achievements. Now, due to the limited size of the current facility, construction of a maternity ward and health workers quarters is underway, and the BIC is also investing in local businesses helping to serve the community and cover the health clinic’s operational costs. As a global advocate, my goal is to help make this happen by fundraising $20,000 to fund these various projects.

CU: What insight do you have to offer current students and alumni who are searching for employment?

JS: Be in love with what you do and the people you work with. Surround yourself with individuals who see your full potential and will help you achieve your goals.

CU: What advice do you have for current students who want to make the most out of their time at Chapman?

JS: Challenge yourself; take a class outside of your major, join an organization on campus you are passionate about, connect with your peers and faculty, and lastly, travel! The study abroad opportunities offered by Chapman University have really shaped who I am today. I studied abroad in Beijing, China, for six months in Spring 2013, where I took courses on Chinese media, Chinese politics and beginner-level Mandarin language at Peking University. I also studied abroad in Paris, France, for six months in Spring 2014, where I took advanced -level French language courses at Institute Catholique de Paris. These experiences allowed me to connect with different cultures, and I returned to California both times with newfound strength, confidence and self-understanding. I encourage current students to find their passion and take advantage of all resources Chapman University has to offer.

CU: How has your Chapman degree helped you?

JS: Earning a Chapman degree prepared me intellectually and socially for the career path I am pursuing. Chapman allowed me the flexibility to major in political science while completing two minors in Spanish and French. As a political science major, my perspective of the world was challenged. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to learn in a small environment of no more than 30 students per class, which provided for insightful discussions. I also appreciated being able to take courses that were not in my major or minor curriculum. I took dance classes when I had time and participated in a travel course to the Galapagos Islands to study the theory of evolution. Chapman provided a very holistic education, which is something I believe to be very important. Thanks to Chapman, my professors and fellow peers, I continue to challenge myself by asking questions, learning new skills and pursuing my passions.

CU: How were you involved on campus during your time as a Chapman student?

JS: As a senator for Wilkinson College, I actively spoke with students about their needs in college. As a Chapman Ambassador, I built valuable relationships with faculty, administrators, trustees, guests and friends of the university. I was also involved in the Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society, National Society of Leadership and Success, and was secretary for Gamma Phi Beta.

CU: What is your favorite Chapman memory?

JS: Midnight breakfast during finals week!

CU: What was your favorite spot on campus as a student?

JS: Attallah Plaza.

CU: Have you been involved with Chapman since graduating?

JS: I have attended alumni events in San Francisco and have stayed in contact with fellow Panthers.

CU: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Chapman Family?

I look forward to keeping the Chapman University community updated on my progress as a Global Advocate Fellow, and am thankful to have this opportunity to share my work with fellow alumni and current students interested in similar opportunities.

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