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Back to Africa

Kathleen Fitzgerald in Kenya’s Amboseli region, where she works with the local Maasai on a conservation lease program to protect a wildlife corridor.

Kathleen Fitzgerald ’92
(KSP spring ’91)

Why did you choose the KSP?
Africa was an unknown to me, but it intrigued me. I was an environmental studies and government major and the KSP was the perfect place to learn more about both of these areas. I benefitted greatly by learning about the program from other St. Lawrence students who raved about their experience.

What was it about your KSP experience that inspired or compelled you to stay involved with Africa?
Africa is a dynamic continent that is extremely diverse and changing rapidly. After my KSP semester, I wanted to return to be a part of this growth, but I wanted to be in a place professionally where I could make a meaningful contribution. While I returned to Africa several times for short visits after my semester, I did not return to live for 15 years. I have lived in Kenya for four years and travel throughout the continent for my work. Africa continues to hold enormous potential and I am grateful that the KSP program introduced me to this continent.

Do you have a memorable story to share from your KSP?
I have so many tremendous memories of my semester in Kenya. While it was over twenty years ago that I participated in the program, the people, landscapes, wildlife, cultures and politics remain clear in my mind. To tease out one memory is difficult among myriad smells, colors, sounds and sights.

Now living in Kenya, I am fortunate that I can continue to relive and revisit some of the places first introduced to me through the KSP. If I had to pull out one experience it would be my internship. I worked on a ranch in central Kenya. I sat in a tree platform every day for a month and photographed elephants for identification. The organization I worked for was trying to understand elephant movement and my job was to identify them (which you do by the notches in the ears and tusks). This way we could track where they were moving, and in what family groups, so as to better understand habitat needs and human-wildlife conflict. Twenty years later, the ranch is still a safe place for elephants and the people with whom I worked then continue to work in the conservation field and I collaborate with them on various projects.
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