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WKU student receives Princeton in Latin America Fellowship

Emma Shoaf, a graduating senior at WKU from Lexington, has received the Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) Fellowship to work in the Dominican Republic.

Emma Shoaf

Emma Shoaf

Shoaf, a 2016 graduate in International Affairs and Spanish, is the daughter of Frank and Cameron Shoaf. She is also a graduate of the Honors College at WKU. She will be working for the Mariposa DR Foundation, a non-profit that aims to educate and empower girls in the Dominican Republic to create sustainable solutions to end generational poverty. She will begin the yearlong fellowship in September.

During her years at WKU, Shoaf has taken a particular interest in international development and the linkage between for-profit and non-profit sectors. Her senior undergraduate thesis, “A Targeted Approach? NGO Roles and Practices in Promoting Economic Development,” unites theory and practice by analyzing NGO projects utilizing business solutions to poverty.

While working with two of Kentucky’s primary refugee resettlement organizations, Shoaf developed an understanding of the complexities accompanying refugees’ resettlement experiences. Working first-hand with these individuals propelled Shoaf to explore the source of migration issues as a project intern within the international development NGO Cives Mundi in Spain. She collaborated on the formulation of three development projects, specifically targeted toward promoting economic recuperation in Lebanese refugee camps.

“My international experiences have both confirmed and challenged how I look at development,” Shoaf said. “All of my professional and volunteer experiences have centered on the idea of promoting self-sufficiency of vulnerable groups. These first-hand experiences are what I seek to gain as a PiLA Fellow. By spending a year working with the Mariposa DR Foundation, I will learn how to form productive and equal relationships with the communities in which I am working. Understanding how to approach different cultures will help me formulate sustainable development solutions that utilize the skills and knowledge these communities already possess.”

Shoaf will pursue a graduate degree in economic development with a focus on community and small business development. Ultimately she plans to work in project implementation within an organization where she can unite business and nonprofit spheres to serve development needs in Latin America.

Cheryl Kirby-Stokes, Coordinator of Nationally Competitive Opportunities for the Office of Scholar Development, said, “Emma is WKU’s first PiLA  Fellow, and we are delighted she will represent our University and the PiLA Fellowship Program.”

Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) was established in 2002 by an enthusiastic group of Princeton students, alumni, staff and faculty as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the Americas in the fulfillment of the University’s motto, “Princeton in the nation’s service and the service of humanity.” PiLA matches partner NGO and multilateral organizations engaged in socially responsible development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean with highly qualified and motivated recent college graduates who are interested in year-long service fellowship opportunities throughout the region.

About the Office of Scholar Development: The Office of Scholar Development is committed to helping WKU students in all majors and degree programs develop the vision, experience and skills to be independent, engaged scholars. OSD welcomes the opportunity to work with students interested in nationally competitive scholarships.

Contact: Cheryl Kirby-Stokes, (270) 745-4191

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