WISER Choice

Cunningham '08 awarded Marshall Scholarship for Africa work
April 1, 2010
New beginnings: Cunningham, right, with principal Dorcas

New beginnings: Cunningham, right, with principal Dorcas Oyugi at WISER opening. Caroline Whistler ’08

The Women's Institute for Secondary Education and Research, or WISER, the first all-girls boarding school in Kenya, opened in January. For cofounder Andrew Cunningham '08, it no doubt capped an impressive and exciting month: In December, he received the Marshall Scholarship, which provides for two years of graduate level studies in the United Kingdom.

"Living and working in a rural Kenyan fishing village has provided me with the unique opportunity to take my passion and what I have learned in the classroom and translate it to the real world," Cunningham says. While in Kenya, he helped oversee the construction of the seven-acre WISER campus. He also founded the WISER Young Social Entrepreneurs program, which provides income-generating opportunities for unemployed youth.

WISER has roots at Duke. Sherryl Broverman, an associate professor of the practice of biology who studies HIV/AIDS and is a member of the Duke Global Health Institute, introduced Cunningham and others to the Muhuru Bay, Kenya, community where the school is located.

Cunningham plans to pursue a graduate degree in international and comparative education at the University of Oxford. After Oxford, he says, he would like to lead organizations based in the U.S. and abroad that can help plan, implement, and monitor innovative strategies for improving teacher training, curricula, and community participation in education development, especially for girls.

"With my degree from Oxford, I will also be prepared for a career at UNICEF, where I wish to one day become the director of education programs for East Africa or East Asia," he says.