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Actions & Impact

Read about UWC-USA students, alumni, and faculty who are making a difference locally and globally.

Applied Learning
Posted 03/08/2015 09:00AM

Jane Huber '12 started her career in public policy and nonprofit management in a UWC-USA dorm room.

A passion for education and a friend from Swaziland were the inspiration. Today, Jane is one of three founders of Platforms for Hope, a nonprofit organization that supports the education system in Swaziland.

The idea came to Jane after she offered a lap desk to her friend, Mzwakithi Prestige Shongwe '12. "He started writing, and then there was this moment where he paused, looked up, and said, 'This is the answer to education in Swaziland!'," Jane explained. "We spoke about what it means to have a surface to write on and its effects on the experience of being in school, and decided that we needed to do to make it a reality."

Jane and Mzwakithi, along with their peer Julie Trolle '12, created a sustainable business model to distribute lap desks in Swazi schools. With the support of the Social Entrepreneurship Incubator at UWC-USA, the students turned their passion for education reform into a reality.

It didn't end after graduation. Although the three founders went their separate ways, Platforms for Hope not only survived, but has grown in scope. The summer after graduation, Jane visited Mzwakithi in Swaziland to build community connections with local leaders and craftsmen. They went on to their respective universities and began getting more students involved.

"I have a team of five students here at University of Chicago who joined Platforms for Hope to compete in a business competition," says Jane. "Mzwakithi formed a team at Middlebury College, we have a number of partners in Swaziland, and we all keep spreading the idea to new people. It keeps growing as more people learn of the project and offer support and help," Jane explained.

Jane hopes to attend law school after completing her undergraduate degree, and then go into government or nonprofit work. "My dream is that, through my experiences at UWC and the education I have, I will be able to contribute to the efforts of spreading UWC values and making a real difference in the world," she says.

Meet Mzwakithi Shongwe, '12, who came to UWC-USA from Swaziland.

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UWC-USA is one of 16 UWCs on five continents. Other countries that have UWCs include Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Swaziland, and Wales.

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UWC-USA students perform more than 18,700 hours of service every year through our association with 25 community partners. More than 2,500 people in Las Vegas, N.M. and the surrounding community have benefited from service projects led by UWC-USA students.

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UWC-USA has 228 students representing more than 70 countries, from Armenia to Zimbabwe. Eleven students come from countries identified as conflict regions. Representation within our student body includes: Africa 10%, Asia 28%, Europe 29%, North America 23%, South America 10%.

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Students don’t apply directly to the school; they are selected by committees in their home countries based on academic achievement, leadership, and curiosity about and involvement with global events and cultures.

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Philanthropist Shelby Davis has created a $40 million endowment that provides 50 U.S. students with full scholarships to attend a UWC every year.

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Our more than 3,357 UWC-USA alumni are spread across the globe: North America 26%, Latin America and Caribbean 16%, Africa 10%, Middle East 6%, Asia 14%, Europe 21%, Pacific 2%

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UWC-USA offers the International Baccalaureate diploma program. Students can choose from IB classes in 28 subjects – a remarkable number given the size of the school.

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