Posted 4:12 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, 2020
Senior leads spring break service trip to Guatemala, receives $2,000 from Rada Award recipient.
A service trip to Guatemala changed Kitt Drewiske’s heart and pumped up her passion for public health.
Drewiske, a public health and community health education major, says her first trip to Guatemala with the Hudson DayBreak Rotary Club in January 2018 taught her about her passion for serving others. The eight-person team built smoke-free stoves in homes and schools as an alternative to open-fire cooking.
The move reduces dangerous smoke that can lead to health issues while also creating a more efficient burn that uses less wood. When Drewiske mentioned her service trip to her advisor, Dan Duquette, Health Education Health Promotion, he helped her transform her service work into an independent study by adding research, journaling and presentation components.
During the trip, Drewiske built relationships with the project founder, Guatemalan entrepreneur and Rotary club member Carlos Galvez and others, which led to plans for the return trip.
“I knew of the intense need for smoke-free stoves, how the project was impacting a number of lives, and that there was still a lot of work to do,” she says.
Drewiske worked with pre-medicine student Madeline Brown to plan the second service trip for spring break, March 16– 23. The group of UWL students and faculty installed 18 stoves in Antigua, El Paredón, Panajachel (Masagua), and Guatemala City. They also fundraised $8,200 for Guatemalan families and schools to receive stoves.
Beyond the physical and monetary success, Drewiske says the biggest success was the relationships created among students, faculty, Galvez, families and the stove installers. Students walked away with an invaluable experience that will impact them for the rest of their lives, she says.
“My goal for the trip was to expose students to an experience of seeing what we learned in the classroom being carried out in the real world and to allow them to explore their passions,” she says.
Drewiske receives financial boost through Rada Award
Drewiske’s commitment to serving others globally was recognized when a UWL alumnus directed a $2,000 gift her way.
Marc Gall, ’03, received the Rada Distinguished Alumnus Award in September 2018, one of the top awards bestowed by the UWL Alumni Association. The award includes a scholarship/fellowship of $2,000 to be presented to a current student in a department of the recipient's choosing.
Gall selected Drewiske as he wanted to find a student invested in traveling to different regions and making the world a better place.
Drewiske says the award was a complete surprise as her advisor, Dan Duquette, chair of the Health Education Health Promotion program, had nominated her.
“The scholarship I received from the Radas and Marc Gall was a confirmation to continue to follow my passion for this project,” says Drewiske. “It allowed me to have greater flexibility and time to prepare for this trip. It has been an honor to be the recipient of this scholarship, and I am extremely grateful for the generosity that the Rada and Gall families have shown me.”
Based on interest expressed by a number of students, Drewiske says the service trip will continue in future years after she graduates. Drewiske is proud to be completing the Health Education Health Promotion program in May.
“I owe my growth in the last four years to this department,” she says. “My professors have challenged me to be the best version of myself, to be passionate about expanding my mind, and to view the world with a public health lens.”