by Brian Bumgardner
Chelsea Hodgkins is a West Virginia University international studies and geography student with a passion for helping others.
In her time at WVU, she has traveled to Africa twice, including one trip to Malawi and another last April to help install a water treatment plant that will serve 59 households in rural Ghana.
She recently received the David L. Boren Award, a scholarship that will provide up to $20,000 to help Hodgkins return to Ghana during the fall semester. She had a conversation with The Daily Athenaeum’s Bryan Bumgardner about her experiences in Africa, earning scholarships and her passion for helping people.
BB– Had you been to Africa before or traveled anywhere else before you went to Malawi?
CH– No, that was my first time out of the country.
BB– So what was that like for you?
CH– It was very surreal. You know, on TV you see a lot of ways that the media portrays Africa, or the ways that various organizations see it, like National Geographic, and a lot of it is like that. I can remember we got in a car at the airport, and the airport was two hours away from where we were staying. Just to drive through this city and into the countryside was surreal. I mean, you see people walking on the roads, people carrying water on their heads, people wearing tattered clothing … You see all of these things that you see on the TV, but the biggest difference is that you’re there. There’s no buffer between you and that reality.