Kennedy Center panel will discuss global development

Crys Kevan Lee
Empower Playgrounds, Inc. is a nonprofit that builds electricity-generating playground equipment for children in impoverished villages. Panelist Crys Kevan Lee directs this organization. (Crys Kevan Lee)

The David M. Kennedy Center will host a global development panel with WomanStats alumni this Thursday, Sept. 22, at 4 p.m. in 238 HRCB.

The WomanStats program consists of a team of research assistants, investigators and student assistants dedicated to women’s international well-being and research. Their research assesses the interconnections between the security of women and the security of a nation. The program, which draws many of its researchers from BYU, stands by the belief that the fate of nations is tied to the status of women.

The featured panelists will be Crys Kevan Lee, Jessica Hogstrom Wells and Julie Ford Brenning. These women are BYU alumni who worked for WomanStats as students and have since pursued careers in global development. Lee is the executive director of the nonprofit organization Empower Playgrounds, Inc., which supports children’s education in West Africa. Wells is a senior program manager for AidData, a company that tracks funding for international development. Brenning is the research director for Give Her Life, a nonprofit organization seeking to end sex-selective abortion in Asia.

The panelists will discuss their experiences as undergraduate students and the ways they worked toward careers in global development. They will also answer questions and offer advice to students.

Crys Kevan Lee
Children in West Africa play on an electricity-generating merry-go-round developed by Empower Playgrounds, Inc. (Crys Kevan Lee)

Kellie Daniels, Career Lecture Series instructor, said the purpose of the panel is to introduce students to career options beyond the traditional pathways linked to certain majors.

“Sometimes students aren’t aware of the different tracks that a degree can go,” Daniels said. “A lot of people don’t know where their career paths are going to go and that’s okay.”

Daniels said it is important to take advantage of classes and campus resources in order to develop analytical skills, work on research and learn to write papers.

“These are skills that students can use as leverage for after graduation,” Daniels said.

Arielle Newman, facilitator of the WomanStats project, organized the panel and invited the featured speakers to take part in this event.

“There have been some BYU alumni who have gone on and done great things,” Newman said. “We thought it would really be awesome to share those experiences with students so they could see different ways of helping the world.”

Donna Lee Bowen, professor of political science, taught the featured panelists when they were students at BYU and is now a witness to the changes they are making in society.

“It’s amazing. It’s like seeing your children succeed. You see these young people with such incredible talent and abilities,” Bowen said. “They’re so bright, have such good intellect and good hearts. Then you see what they do when they head for the world. It’s exciting!”

For more information on upcoming panels, visit the Kennedy Center website.

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