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Alumni Feature: Shaylah Nichols, Class of 2014

Shaylah Nichols, Clas of 2014, founder of Muwala Mulungi.

Tell us a little about yourself and where your education took you?

“I graduated from APW in 2014 and attended Syracuse University for college where I studied Human Development and Family Science and attended many basketball and football games. Throughout college, I substitute taught at APW Elementary School, mentored in the Syracuse City School District, and interned at Elmcrest Children's Center. My junior year of college I had the opportunity to study abroad in Uganda where I stayed for 6 months and interned at a children's home. While I was there, I also traveled to Rwanda and Tanzania. I went back to visit Uganda in 2019 and hope to return again very soon. My senior year of college I was accepted to participate in Teach for America's Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Summit, which was an amazing experience.”

 

How did you get to where you are now?

“After I graduated, I moved to NYC where I worked at a nonprofit organization called Project Sunshine. Last year, in 2019, I founded a women's empowerment program called Muwala Mulungi that works with young homeless women in Uganda, providing them with technical training and psychosocial support. In November of 2019, I was awarded the Alice Rowan Swanson Fellowship for Muwala Mulungi, an award that provides grants to community-based, culturally-sensitive grassroots initiatives. I was planning to return to Uganda in May 2020 but my plans have been forestalled until after the COVID-19 pandemic. I was also given the opportunity to participate in the NYU Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service this year, which provides professional development opportunities for young professionals in public service.”

 

How have you developed work experience?

“During the summer of 2020, I worked briefly at Hillside Family of Agencies in Syracuse. I recently began a Master of Social Work program at Columbia University. In September I moved to Hawaii, where I work at the Department of Education in Honolulu, continue my work in Uganda remotely, and take my graduate classes online. I'm also participating in the Issroff Family Foundation's WeareWISE program, a personal and professional growth opportunity for young women working in the social sector. Over the last few years, I have traveled to 16 countries/territories and many cities throughout the US. Not a day goes by that I don't feel incredibly grateful for the opportunities and experiences I have been afforded.”