Grace Jakes, a sophomore majoring in Animal Science and Global Resource Systems, was planning to spend a semester in Uganda, but had to return early because of the Covid-19 pandemic. “In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, our study abroad experience in Uganda did end early, but that did not mean that our work and projects came to an end. Coming home during Spring Break, we were able to complete our projects from afar through collaboration with ISU-UP staff. I personally was able to complete an impact assessment of livestock program services and a research study on agricultural lime and manure supplementation to grow livestock forages. As difficult as it was to leave early, Iowa State was awesome about bringing us back safely at the right time. I sincerely appreciate the work of the Uganda-based staff and staff in Global Resource Systems and the CALS Study Abroad to keep us safe and still make our work and time meaningful to the program.”
When Grace first arrived at Iowa State, she didn’t think she could afford a study abroad experience and was afraid that spending time abroad wouldn’t fit into her academic and career goals. At the same time, she was always interested in the role of agriculture in promoting food security and economic mobility. “When I learned about the Semester Along the Nile Program in Uganda, I saw a way that I could explore my passion, make a difference, and do something adventurous, outside of my comfort zone.”
During her work in Uganda, Grace was inspired by how hard all of the community members worked to achieve their goals while also helping others and hopes to follow their example in the future. Although working with diverse cultures was initially challenging for Grace, this experience opened her eyes to ways that she can help make Iowa State more welcoming to students from other countries and cultures. After overcoming the cross-culture barrier, Grace was able to develop life-lasting relationships with several Makerere University students that she hopes to continue staying in contact with in the future.
Grace said her advice to students interested in studying abroad is “Be creative and look for support to make your goals happen. Especially at Iowa State, there are many scholarships to help facilitate studying abroad and it might fit into your four-year plan more easily than you might think. Take the time to research about where you are going before you leave.”
Grace is has been involved with the Dairy Science Club at Iowa State as their Dairy Products Chair last year, served as a First Year Honors Program leader for the University Honors Program last fall and has been involved in the Salt Company since her freshman year, where she was honored to be selected for Iowa State’s chapter of the Cardinal Key Honor Society this spring.