Yvonne and Jen

Surprise Alumni Collaboration

Yvonne Kielhorn, Ph.D. (Ghana) and Jennifer Barna M.D. (USA) met as classmates at UWC-USA, graduating in the Class of ‘88. The bonds formed during those two years in the New Mexico wilderness have proven to be those of enduring friendship. The two classmates had not been in touch for over 30 years until a virtual reunion in July 2020. When Kielhorn and Barna joined their former UWC classmates for a virtual reunion in July 2020, they had no expectation beyond a brief and joyful chance to see friends and catch up. The reunion, led by fellow classmate Mudit Tyagi, led to a business discussion that continued between Barna and Kielhorn, regarding Barna’s plan to develop a coaching and course platform for physicians called DocWorking, and Kielhorn’s own award-winning education platform, Why Science. Discussions quickly prompted action, built on trust and friendship established at UWC years ago. Read more about their collaboration and partnership here.

The result is DocWorking (www.DocWorking.com), Barna’s online platform to help physicians achieve work-life balance by providing life and career coaching, nonclinical course options, as well as Coding for Life (https://www.docworking.com/for-your-kids/), a virtual learning program powered by Kielhorn’s platform Why Science, to help kids explore the world of coding. Says Kielhorn, “When Jen first described the platform she envisioned to help fellow physicians, it struck a chord with me because I grew up in a family of doctors, my father a neurosurgeon. I recall vividly that the stresses he faced at work in Ghana weighed on our whole family, kids included. I imagined that if I had been able to take an engaging coding class from home while he was away for what seemed like months sometimes, it would have brightened my days. And he would have been happy knowing his kids were learning and preoccupied.” The Coding for Life course offerings serve as part of DocWorking’s broader mission of helping physicians and their families achieve the best of work and home. The virtual program enables children in grades 1-8 to take part in an interactive course that allows for varying skill levels, where kids can learn the fundamentals of coding through hands-on learning, games and interactive computer simulations that bring fun and creativity to long-term understanding of STEM principles, encouraging creativity in video game design and app development.

“Working with Yvonne has been like working with family, our bond is so strong from our time together at UWC,” says Barna. “Yvonne helped me to bring my vision of DocWorking to reality. With her brilliance and expertise, she advised me as a mentor and business coach. She worked with me to understand my vision and guided her development team to create my website. By bringing Coding for Life onto the DocWorking site, our hope is to bring peace of mind to frontline healthcare and essential workers by ensuring that their kids, the future innovators of our world, are having fun while learning from home.”

The timing is remarkably fitting as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged parents to look for new and innovative ways for their children to learn at home. “By offering Coding for Life, it is our hope to contribute to the next generation of doctors, scientists and creative thinkers,” says Kielhorn.

According to Kielhorn, “The bonds we made with our fellow classmates made at UWC through intensive study and wilderness activities were so strong. The memory of reaching out our hands to help each other during rock climbing exercises sticks with me. The fact that Jen and I were able to reunite after all of these years and move forward at such a rapid pace was based on a strong foundation of trust that arose from our time together as classmates.”

Bonds formed through UWC friendships only grow over time, despite the long distances that may separate us. As proven time and time again, the UWC experience never stops giving.

To learn more about DocWorking and Coding for Life, visit www.DocWorking.com

To learn more about Why Science, visit https://www.whyscience.com/

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