Michelle Cude makes strides for education in Kenya

By Erin Edmonds

Michelle Cude

Dr. Michelle Cude, Associate Professor of Middle, Secondary, and Mathematics Department, was recently granted a 17-18 Fulbright Scholarship for her work in Narok, Kenya. Fueled by having an international exchange teacher, Alice Sayo, in her Methods of Teaching Social Studies course, Dr. Cude’s work began in 2011 when Alice shared her dream of opening a school in her community. Dr. Cude helped to raise $7,000 to buy 5 acres of land, and she did not stop there. Since its opening in 2012, The Nasaruni Academy for Maasai Girls, has grown from13 students to 80 students as of January this year.

Nasaruni, meaning “haven” in the Maasai language, is a place for Maasai girls to learn English, Swahili, math, social studies, geography and sciences in the standard curriculum required by the Kenyan government. Dr. Cude serves as the faculty advisor for JMU’s Future Social Studies Educators, a campus club that often fundraises for the Academy through events like Empty Bowls, which made just over $9,000 on March 31 for necessary improvements at the school. Recently, girls’ education has become a spotlight in social justice. The Nasaruni Academy educates girls to provide them a future beyond arranged marriages or a lifetime of employment as babysitters or domestic workers, according to Alice Sayo’s husband, Bishop Moses Sayo, the Assistant Director of the Academy. Despite popular documentaries such as Girl Rising and leaders like Malala Yousafzai, progress for girls’ education has slowed significantly. This significant issue will be the focus of Dr. Cude’s teaching and research in Kenya, as she feels it is “a critical concern of the government of Kenya, and passionately compelling for me professionally and personally”.

The Fulbright Scholar Program is sponsored by the US government, with the goal “to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries” (Fulbright Scholar Program, 2017). Dr. Cude hopes to do this by supporting girls’ education through teacher education programs in the Maasai Mara Region of Kenya. She asks, “How can we create future teachers who embrace the values of the globally sustainable community? And, how can a globally sustainable community solve the crisis of girls’ education in Maasai Mara?” through her Fulbright projects. Her first research project will culminate in a book with a group of colleagues from Maasai Mara University (MMU). Dr. Cude says they hope to “tell a story of strength and resilience, contributing to greater sustainable development”. Her second project is part of the Global Summit on the Sustainable Self, an international research symposium at JMU. Dr. Cude says “Our sub-group of five professors is conducting a comparative study across several continents examining case studies in various global locations: Macedonia, Australia, USA, Bosnia, and Kenya”. She will work with teacher educators at MMU to discover how teacher education programs “prepare future teachers to cultivate students for a globally sustainable future”.

Overall, Dr. Cude hopes to make a sincere difference in the lives of the people of Kenya through her hard work and dedication to the Nasaruni Academy and research projects as a Fulbright scholar. She says, “Personal connections and relationships are the key to global and cultural understanding, followed by compassionate action and engagement. As a Fulbright scholar, I hope to disseminate a passion for international study and educational travel which will fuel the next generation of Fulbright scholars and global citizens from both sides of world”. 

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Published: Thursday, April 6, 2017

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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