Rob Higham is a Sophomore at Vanderbilt University where he is majoring in Political Science. In high school, Rob was actively involved with African Leadership and Nations Ministry, two local organizations that work extensively with refugee and immigrant populations. He has worked very closely over the last three years with a community of Burundian and Sudanese refugees. He has tutored and mentored six Burundian and Sudanese students who have graduated from high school and are now continuing their studies in college. In 2008, he started a program called Youth Sports Connection that links these refugee groups with Vanderbilt University athletic teams. Youth Sports Connection has partnerships with both the Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams and the Football team. Each year, the athletes invite the refugees over to watch a game and speak with them after the game. In the summer of 2009, Rob traveled to Kigali, Rwanda, and Nairobi, Kenya to work with street-children, and that trip confirmed for him his love for working with refugees and orphans.
In his first year at Vanderbilt, Rob recruited several Ingram Scholars to volunteer at African Leadership and Nations Ministry. This past year, five of these refugees graduated from Nashville public high schools. He was also involved in the Maplewood Tutoring Program where he worked with Freshmen on their basic math skills. This year, Rob is looking forward to continuing his work with African Leadership, and he hopes that as he continues to work with these children, he will gain a better understanding of why he loves this ministry and how he wants to relate this work to his professional career.
Next summer, Rob is planning on going to Kamwenge, Uganda, to work at Kamwenge Secondary and Vocational Institute. One of the main parts of his project will be working on bringing refugee youth from refugee camps in western Uganda to K.S.V.I and helping them assimilate to the academic environment and the community itself. He wants to see if this method of integrating refugees into schools is an effective model and how it could be altered to make it more effective. K.S.V.I is an incredible school with great direction and leadership, and Rob wants to observe what aspects make K.S.V.I so successful and how those qualities can be brought to schools that are struggling to develop. After he graduates, Rob wants to study International Education Policy and Management, and he hopes to work on education development in the Great Lakes region of Africa. Rob is very excited about working with and learning from his Ingram peers in the coming years.