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University of Michigan Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program

The Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program (KDSAP) is a student run organization that originated at Harvard University in 2008. Since then, KDSAP has spread to fourteen other colleges and universities, including University of Michigan. Our chapter’s two main goals are student professional development and community outreach. We provide opportunities for pre-health students to hear from healthcare professionals and learn about basic renal physiology. We also partner with local physicians and community organizations to provide free kidney screenings and health education to underserved populations.

This year, our executive board made a goal to coordinate double the number of screenings as we had in past years, but we were limited by the cost of medical supplies. However, with the grant support from the Barger Leadership Institute we were able to achieve our goal; we held five screenings over the course of the year during which we provided free health services to over 150 community members.

Over the course of the academic year, we held screenings at the Ann Arbor YMCA, the Islamic Institute of America in Dearborn, the First Spanish Baptist Church in Detroit, the Brown African Methodist Episcopal Chapel in Ypsilanti, and Washtenaw Community College. At each of these screenings, community members were able to complete a health history form, have their blood pressure, blood glucose, and BMI measured, have their urine screened, and speak privately with a volunteering physician for free. Over 60 KDSAP members (many of which were new to the organization) participated in trainings and performed these measurements at the screening events. This gave many pre-health students a chance to gain exposure to the healthcare field while simultaneously serving community members who do not have regular access to healthcare.

We also held several other educational events for club members and elementary students from the local community. For World Kidney Day we had a University of Michigan nephrologist and kidney transplant recipient speak to club members about their personal experiences working with kidney disease. We also partnered with the Wolverine Health Sciences program to put on a kidney-related science event at Angell Elementary School.

Out of all of the BLI habits, the ones we used the most were ‘Engage the World’, and ‘Build a Team’. ‘Engage the World’ was a central habit of our project because a large part of our organization’s mission is to reach out to underserved communities. In past years we had only been able to hold screenings in Ann Arbor and Livonia—both of which are reasonably wealthy areas. This year our executive board reached out to many new and underserved communities including the Islamic Institute of America in Dearborn, the First Spanish Baptist Church in Detroit, and the Brown African Methodist Episcopal Chapel in Ypsilanti. We have already begun coordinating future screenings at these locations and hope that we can continue these partnerships for many years to come.

‘Build a Team’ was another essential habit to our project. Given that our organization is still relatively new to University of Michigan, we have still be sorting out many of the nuances of managing an organization with so many moving parts and tasks. Our executive board has had to work effectively as a team in order to expand our organization to include more club members and hold double the number of screenings as we had in past years. We held bi-weekly meetings

in which discussed our upcoming screenings and club activities and supported each other in completing the tasks assigned to each executive board position.

We are incredibly thankful that BLI gave us the chance to grow our organization this year! We invite other BLI fellows to join KDSAP in the fall and help us hold many more screenings and educational events during the upcoming academic year.

 

By: Lauren Weinberg

Migrant Education Initiative (MEI)

“The Migrant Education Initiative (MEI) is working with the Van Buren Intermediate School District (VBISD) to create an initiative aiming to bring more students of Migrant backgrounds to the University of Michigan. The VBISD is located in Van Buren county, an area with one of the highest Migrant populations in the state of Michigan- it’s the largest migrant-serving program in the state. This past summer, we conducted four focus groups, and surveyed over 60 parents and students to gather their opinions and perceptions of higher education. Even though most of these parents did not attend college, both them and their children were eager to achieve at least a bachelor degree. With a lack of representation of both migrant and Latinx student populations at the University of Michigan, MEI will assist in bringing these hopeful students to our four-year university. With our recent partnership with VBISD, we hope to bring this group of students to the University of Michigan over the summer, and launch an application incentive program to get these students the best chance of achieving their goal as possible.”

Check out their Capstone poster here!: MEI Capstone Poster

Team members:

Victoria Villegas, BA Sociology ‘20

Amanda Gomez, BS Information ‘19

Katey – ANKURI (Dehradun, India)

Hi everyone! I’m Katey, a senior studying in LSA’s Program in the Environment and Urban Studies. Earlier this summer, I was very fortunate to spend two months outside of Dehradun, India, as a teaching intern at the non-governmental organization (NGO) ANKURI (Agency for Non Konventional Urban Rural Initiatives). Along with three other college students from the US, I taught English to students of all ages in a few different villages outside of Dehradun at their government schools, ANKURI’s Literacy Center, and at a three-week summer camp filled with crafts and games.

An afternoon at the Literacy Center

As the lead teacher for the second to fifth grade students, I learned how to think on my feet and lead our teaching team through transitional moments in an organized way. In all three teaching locations, we were often under-resourced and our enrollment numbers fluctuated frequently, so we had to adapt the lessons we’d planned depending on how many students and materials we had each day. Additionally, depending on how the teaching sessions progressed, we had to totally scrap our original lesson plans and go with an alternative set of activities and games. Therefore, I developed an arsenal of games, books, and activities that could be used at a moment’s notice and communicate to my American and Indian co-teachers the change of plans in a calm way. I became a more flexible leader and also came to enjoy the challenge and nature of working in an ever-changing environment. I believe I developed really important leadership skills through this experience because the only constant in any work environment is change – in future jobs and internships, I’ll feel more comfortable navigating a team through situations in which we have to alter our original plans. I also enjoyed adjusting our lessons based on which students were present and which resources were available on a given day because I felt like we were addressing the individual needs of the students more accurately, rather than rigidly sticking to the lessons we planned.
Summer camp project

A class project from summer camp

Additionally, with the Indian government school teachers and students I learned how to lead activities and create relationships using forms of communication outside of language. I don’t speak Hindi and the level of English comprehension varied greatly among those we met, so often, we communicated through song, dance, crafts, and movement instead of language. It was a beautiful experience to form close connections with others despite not being able to speak the same language. This alternative form of communication will also help my leadership abilities back on campus because, although I can communicate with most people in Ann Arbor using English, these other forms of communication are deeply personal and have helped me create closer emotional connections with others than I would have if I’d only been using language.
This internship has also allowed me to rethink leadership in terms of how leaders function in a team. Through this experience, each member of our team of American college students, Indian school teachers, and NGO workers had a different role. For example, I taught and developed lessons for the second through fifth grade students and coordinated the arts and crafts activities for summer camp. Other team members taught and choreographed the song and dance activities for summer camp, and another created lessons for the older group of students. We were all able to serve as leaders in different areas, at different times. In future teams and projects, I hope to continue this format of leadership because it made the group function in a more egalitarian manner and gave each of us a sense of pride and autonomy over our area of expertise, rather than having one or two people lead the entire group in a hierarchical structure.
My fellow American interns

My fellow American interns

On an organizational scale, this experience gave me new insights on NGO and non-profit leadership, which is a field that I’m interested in exploring after graduation. Our internship supervisor founded ANKURI, an NGO that aims to empower rural women through income generation, alleviate poverty, and promote health,
education and the full participation of women and children in Uttarakhand society (adapted from ankuri.org). Although initially I didn’t have a clear idea of the background and intentions of those operating ANKURI and was thus slightly skeptical of the organization, once I met Rachna – the founder and director of ANKURI – I felt more confident about the work ANKURI is doing in the area. Rachna is from a much higher social and economic class than most of the women and children ANKURI is intended to serve and she has funded most of the organization’s operations out of her own pocket; however, despite her many differences with those ANKURI serves, she lives among the community and has gained their trust and created close relationships with them over the years. Most importantly, Rachna wants the women and children to have autonomy over the decisions and functioning of the organization: rather than Rachna being the “face of ANKURI,” she wants to help establish a strong base for the operations of the organization and eventually transfer control of ANKURI to the village women. She has also established a local and international network of ANKURI supporters, utilizing a combination of different funding sources and resources to keep the organization functioning. As someone who wants to work with non-profits and grassroots organizations after college, learning about Rachna’s different approaches to funding, resourcing, operating an NGO, and the theory of change behind ANKURI will be valuable when thinking about the various ways organizations can function in the non-profit world.
I’m immensely grateful for the financial support of the Barger Leadership Institute and Kelly and Mary Jean Jecklin – without them, I wouldn’t have been able to have such an influential and memorable experience interning abroad. I thank Rachna and her family for being such wonderful hosts and mentors. Lastly, thank you to the women and children of ANKURI and all of our students and co-teachers for welcoming us into their community.