Nikitah Gaju ’23

Kigutu International Academy, Village Health Works, New York, NY

I was fortunate to spend the summer working as an admissions intern with the Kigutu International Academy—an initiative by the Village Health Works that opened its doors to young brilliant minds across Burundi this fall. As an admissions intern, some ofPicture of Nikitah Gaju with laptop my responsibilities included working with the team to develop a rubric to grade applications. For this task, we researched other institutions and their admission systems to better inform our own processes. We also read through and graded applications, adding the necessary information to spreadsheets. A highlight to my internship was the opportunity to apply the two semesters of French I took at Williams to reading and translating the applications that were in French!

The team met twice a week via video calls to discuss recent updates and decisions regarding the admissions process. 
In addition, I worked on smaller projects like creating a list of English book recommendations for the school library that would provide a smoother transition from French to English instruction for the admitted students. Another highlight to my experience was the interviews. After weeks of reading applications, we got to put faces to the wonderful stories we had read. Some of the applicants were shy at first and it was up to us to make them feel comfortable and to give them their chance to shine.

When I began my internship, I was afraid that the remote aspect of the work would make it less engaging and therefore not as interesting. I later realized that even though this was an experience I was not familiar with, there was still so much to gain from it. I learned to properly budget my time to ensure I met the deadlines. I also improved my communication skills, especially with my supervisors which is so important in a remote setting. My internship brought me closer to better understanding the disparities that are present in many societies such as 
differences in economic backgrounds that impact the quality of education one has access to and what opportunities 
one is able to take advantage of later. I am incredibly grateful to have worked for an institution that sees the importance of diversity in the class they want to admit. While making decisions, we had to account for the 
differences in access so as to achieve our goal of having a diverse class in terms of talents and background.

I feel fortunate because through this experience I gained 
professional credits to add to my résumé; applied my French language skills acquired in class; and most importantly, acquired friends and mentors for the rest of my career. I am grateful for the support through the O’Herron-Burleigh Internship that enabled me to be a part of something meaningful this summer. Thank you.