Tuesday, July 3, 2012

featured donor: mary murphy

Many thanks to Mary Murphy, a math professor at Smith College who is a regular volunteer at the College and a faithful donor to our Scholarship Partners Program, for sharing her unique perspective and for giving so much of her time, insight, and financial resources to help students in Carmen Pampa.

How did you become involved with the College in Bolivia?

Mary Murphy with students in the College's Education Dept.
I first learned about the UAC-CP through an article about the University that appeared in the National Catholic Reporter in 2003. I was intrigued and inspired: I teach mathematics and also speak Spanish, but I had never done both at the same time. It wasn't until 2005 that I was able to visit Carmen Pampa to find out whether or not I could handle living there (yes) and whether I could be of use to the UAC-CP (yes).

I arranged to take a leave from my job during the fall semester of 2006 so that I could volunteer in Carmen Pampa. I won't say that my experience was an easy one; teaching in Spanish with terribly inadequate resources was a challenge, and I often found myself counting the days to the end of the semester, but ultimately it was satisfying and rewarding, especially because of the beautiful people I had come to know. By December, I was already figuring out how to soon I could come back. I returned the following May as soon as my semester at Smith [College] ended, and have done so every year since 2007. In 2008, in fact, I managed to stay in Carmen Pampa for a another whole semester.

Why do you choose to donate to CPF's Scholarship Program?

I want to support a student like so many of those I've taught at the College, young men and women of promise who sincerely want to become educated in order to work effectively to help their own people. For the most part, these students wouldn't have advanced beyond secondary school were it not for the UAC. Their parents have few economic resources, and they come to the University with little more than a few changes of clothing and a pencil or two. Some have to spend their weekends elsewhere picking coca leaves, instead of studying, to earn money for food. I want to make it possible for a student to focus on his or her learning.

Why do you think other people should be interested in the College's work?

It's good to realize that the things most of us in the U.S. take for granted, universal public education, sufficient food, adequate health care, high-speed internet, and free public libraries are little more than a dream for billions of people in other parts of the world. The UAC-CP is one grass-roots effort to redress this imbalance, one graduate at a time.

1 comment:

Margarita Conte said...

This is a very interesting story! Thanks for posting it, Sarah!

Peggy Conte