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Clarke Lecture to Discuss Uganda Outreach

The Clarke University Mackin-Mailander Lecture Series will present “Clean Water and Education: Impacting Lives in Uganda” on Tuesday, March 13, at 7:30 p.m. in Jansen Music Hall on the Clarke campus. The lecture will be given by Kathyrn Rist Ely, Ph.D., a 1966 Clarke graduate, and Paula Schmidt, Ed.D., assistant professor of education at Clarke. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend.

Kathryn Rist Ely is the founder and executive director of Quench and Connect, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting schools in Uganda. Recognizing that health and good education are primary tools to lift a population out of poverty, the mission of Quench and Connect builds on two pillars: to provide clean safe water to students and to provide educational tools that will significantly increase the academic achievement of the students.

A structural biologist with more than 25 years of experience working in academia, Ely’s laboratory determined the three-dimensional structures of many key proteins with the basic discovery science that came from these studies setting the framework to understand key biochemical processes and basic mechanisms in human health, including immunity, cancer and neurodegeneration. Her work has been published in more than 95 papers in first-tier scientific journals and was presented at international conferences all over the world.

Her international interactions with scientists and students made her aware of the disparities in the quality of life in different countries, especially in developing nations. Recognizing that the lack of clean water is a major impediment to good health and that illiteracy and lack of technology hampers the standard of living, she began to see the need for an international program to provide water, health and education to schools in developing nations like Uganda. In 2010, Kathryn turned her professional energy toward volunteer humanitarian outreach and established Quench and Connect to focus on these intertwined problems.

Paula Schmidt, assistant professor of education at Clarke, will co-present the lecture. Last year, she spent time working in Uganda working with Quench and Connect and will share her experiences in the lecture.

Schmidt joined Clarke’s full-time faculty in 2003 after serving as a special education teacher for students in grades 5 through 12. She is an expert in special education, has presented at numerous conferences across the country and is involved on campus in various committee appointments and volunteer opportunities.

She holds a bachelor of science degree in elementary education and special education from Winona State University; a master’s degree in professional development from Marian College and an Ed.D. in special education from the University of Northern Iowa.

For more information, contact the Clarke University Marketing and Communication Office at (563)588-6318. 

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