Elon senior awarded Princeton in Africa fellowship

Kristen Conroy will spend a year in Kenya helping an organization that matches orphans of those killed by HIV/AIDS with elderly residents who lost their own adult children to the disease.

Elon University senior Kristen Conroy
A graduating Elon University Honors Fellow takes her passion for sustainability and development to Kenya next fall as the recipient of a fellowship meant to “develop young leaders committed to Africa’s advancement.”

Kristen Conroy, an environmental & ecological science and international studies double major from Pembroke, Mass., will spend a year overseas supported by Princeton in Africa, a New Jersey-based nonprofit affiliated with Princeton University.

The Princeton in Africa fellowship covers housing, living expenses and health care. Conroy will work in the eastern African nation with Nyumbani, an organization that pairs young orphans with older village residents whose adult children died of HIV/AIDS.

Conroy said the organization’s goal is to maintain a “family feel” and a traditional upbringing among children impacted by the deadly disease. Because of their services, several families retain biological grandchild/grandparent relationships.

In her role as a sustainability fellow, Conroy said, she likely will work on projects related to sanitation, rainwater harvesting, sustainable agriculture, and transitioning away from cooking over open fires. She also serves as volunteer coordinator and will give tours and find projects for volunteers visiting the village.

The responsibilities closely align with Conroy’s previous work in Africa. She traveled to Kenya and Tanzania in 2012 with the School for Field Studies to research water quality and later presented her findings to communities based on data collected along local rivers and interviews with residents and local leaders.

Since Princeton in Africa first launched in 1999, it has paired more than 250 fellows in 34 countries with organizations that address public health, education and social entrepreneurship, among other goals.

“I am very excited to be a Princeton in Africa Fellow because I will be able to return to Kenya and grow my knowledge of the culture and language, sustainable practices and the internal functioning of nonprofits,” Conroy said. “This program will allow me to have working and lifestyle experience I would not be able to obtain otherwise.”

Conroy is an Honors Fellow, a Glen Raven Scholar and a Sustainability Scholar with membership in Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and the Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society at Elon. The recipient of the Kenan Scholarship, the university’s top award covering full tuition for four years, also participates in the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity.

Conroy is the daughter of Kathy Conroy and Kevin Conroy of Pembroke, Mass. Her older sister, Kaela, is a 2010 alumna of Elon University, and she has a younger brother who will enroll this fall at the University of Rhode Island.

Elon students and recent alums who are interested in this award or other nationally competitive fellowships are invited to contact the Office of National and International Fellowships in Lindner 200.