Internship impact: Magdalene Kihara

Magdalene Kihara was one of the winter quarter students in BIS 495, the internship course taught by Loren Redwood in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences. They “combined passion with academic pursuit,” Redwood said. By the end of the quarter, four of her 12 students had jobs.

Magdalene KiharaMagdalene Kihara (society, ethics and human behavior ’17) had some emotionally trying experiences as an intern, working with women who have lost custody of their children because of homelessness or chemical dependency. But nothing was as shocking as the experience in her native Kenya that led her to want to become “a source of change in my society.”

“I was passing by a dumping site and there was an abandoned dead baby that was left in the dumping site,” she said.

Kihara was 13 years old at the time and didn’t know what to do. Another person passing by called law enforcement. Kihara was left to wonder, “What caused people to do such social evil?”

After moving to America, she learned there are places where people can drop off unwanted babies for adoption.

Kihara plans to earn a master’s in social work and go back to Kenya and “empower those women, especially people in the slums, empower them through the skills and experiences that I’ve encountered here.”

Kihara interned with the YWCA in Lynnwood on Project Reunite, working with women in transitional housing – victims of drug addiction or domestic violence. The program encourages women to move into independent living situations where they can be reunited with their children.

As an intern, Kihara sat in on counseling sessions and group meetings with women.

“Every week is different and they have different struggles, different experiences,” she said.

The internship taught her the usefulness of skills she had been taught at UW Bothell.

“I learned you need communication skills. You need your critical thinking skills. You need your organizational skills, active listening skills, diversity and equity skills, collaboration and shared leadership skills,” Kihara said. “So all this that I acquired from IAS, that’s one thing that I’m taking from UW Bothell.”