Western Washington University Alumni Association

Keely Flege

Major - English/Math Minor
Hometown - Bend, OR

“I knew coming straight from Uganda that Western was the right choice for me, and I am still so happy to be here.”

When I was 16, I moved with my family from Washington to Uganda, East Africa to start an orphanage. I lived there for 2 years before returning to Washington to start my college career at WWU. Those years were the most stretching, adventurous, difficult, and formative years I have ever known. Africa, I learned, is more different than I ever could have expected. Running an orphanage is not what I thought it would be. I learned the valuable lesson that sometimes I just don’t/won’t understand everything in life and that it is okay if I don’t have the answer to every question. My time spent in Uganda is so precious to me, and I know its impact on me has been profound. My unique experience has prompted me to be interested in the world around me, to have a desire to learn, and to want to share stories with my peers—to learn from and with them. I am and have always been a learner; I used to say that when I grew up I wanted to be a student, forever learning.

This scholarship’s impact on my life is something I am not sure I can adequately relate without losing some of the meaning I wish to convey. I say that with the utmost sincerity. I feel so blessed as a recipient, and am so grateful for the generosity of others that eases my financial burden. I am truly blessed. As my parents still live in Africa, they are not able to help me with my school costs, and I work to fund my living expenses and educational pursuits. It is a fair situation and I am happy working to support myself where I need to. But this scholarship helps ease that burden, allows me more time to focus on my education instead of my bills, and I cannot articulate how helpful it is (not only personally, but also educationally.) I feel so fortunate to be chosen as a recipient of this scholarship and am so thankful to the Alumni Association and all its donors.

I love to be outdoors: hiking, rock climbing, camping, and enjoying the beautiful Bellingham area. I can also never get enough time with my friends and family. Western truly seems to attract beautiful people, as it seems as though almost every student I meet has a big heart, big goals, and the drive to really make a difference in the world in their own way. I cannot think of a better community to be a part of, and I have so enjoyed getting to know people here and building relationships with peers. My perfect day is spent outdoors with the people I love.

My experience in Uganda has definitely impacted the way that I live my life—in fact, it just about turned my world upside down! I learned so much about myself in the years that I was there. I think the most tangible change that I can see is my altered perspective on the world. Living in Uganda really opened up my world. Before the move, I was consumed by high school sports and academics, focused almost entirely on myself. After spending time in Uganda, however, I have a broader view, and I think I am more able to see how I fit into a system, a worldwide community. I’m no longer focused so much on myself (although I still have my moments) and the trivial bits of my life, but on the greater community that I’m a part of. I know what life is like for children growing up in Uganda, and I can’t ignore it anymore. I know that there is work to be done to fight for justice in far parts of the world, and I am motivated to act, to fight. I’m never going to be able to ignore that kind of suffering.

 

 

 

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