News and Events

CCPA Students Discuss Their Experience in Uganda

Stephanie Fedler, Whitney Bartels and Carolyn Angiolillo Talk About the Impactful Trip

by Michelle Yoby (B.A. CCPA '10)

Three Corporate Communications and Public Affairs (CCPA) students in Dr. Maria Dixon’s mustangconsulting class, Carolyn Angiolillo, Whitney Bartels and Stephanie Fedler, traveled to Uganda for six days during spring break to work with the nonprofit Ugandan American Partnership Organization. Founded by SMU alumna Brittany Merrill, UAPO supports the communities in Uganda through a variety of projects. The students had spent months working on promotional ideas for UAPO before the trip, and plan to work with the organization to bring student volunteers to Uganda on a regular basis. They talked about their experiences with fellow CCPA student Michelle Yoby as well as The Dallas Morning News.

Q: What were your expectations prior to the trip? What did you think your experience would be like? What were you feeling?

Stephanie Fedler: I expected to get a better understanding of the inner-workings of UAPO, which I definitely did. I gained a new respect for the people running this organization. Brittany Merrill and Blake Smith are doing some incredible work in Uganda and being able to see it first-hand was amazing.

Q: What was the most memorable part of your trip and why?

Whitney Bartels: Meeting Alice Dramundru and the 21 orphans she cares for was the most memorable part of the trip. We spent the first evening enjoying a traditional Ugandan meal and learned about how Alice became involved with UAPO. Her story was incredible. Her husband had died of AIDS 16 years ago, yet she tested HIV negative. Feeling as though she had been spared from the disease, she committed her life to serving others – orphans and children.

Stephanie Fedler: When we arrived at the Buwala Village, we were greeted with traditional song and dance. The Ugandans were so excited for us to be there and it really showed the amount of trust that the people of UAPO have gained with the Ugandan villagers. These relationships are what this organization is built on.

Q: How did the trip impact your life?
Whitney Bartels: I returned to the states content with my circumstances, appreciative of my blessings and determined not to forget the people I met in Africa. Their humility, simplicity, and sacrificial love for one another are contagious and I only hope to return again to serve the people of Uganda.

Carolyn Angiolillo:  I was given the chance to continue working for an organization that I have invested so much time and effort into and see first hand, how many people in Uganda depend on what we’re doing to survive.

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