Kendall Hitch is a senior at the University of Kentucky majoring in Political Science with minors in Latin American Studies and International Studies.
As one of the founding members of the Student Philanthropy Board at UK, Hitch hopes to get students to see that they don’t have to wait until after they graduate college to make an impact, they can start now.
Throughout her time at UK, Hitch has already made an impact in others lives since she started her own nonprofit organization just last year.
Hitch worked abroad in Guatemala with an organization called “Asociación Vida” in which she helped teach English as a second language to children. Since volunteers came only for a month or two to help teach English, she noticed that there were large gaps in between learning periods for the children. After noticing this, Hitch wanted to create a more sustainable way that the children could continue their English language lessons even after the volunteers left.
“What I and another volunteer did was raise money for an initial startup for computers and webcams for the children and we started enrolling volunteers to be virtual teachers,” said Hitch. “We wanted to create an online English learning supplement for kids that is run by English teachers and English speakers.”
Through these efforts, her nonprofit “Abroadband Connections” was born. The program focuses on one-on-one tutoring sessions by volunteers teaching English abroad from their homes to children in Guatemala.
“Not only is the idea of the organization to give these language skills and opportunities in order to help people learn English, but also to provide a cultural exchange for volunteers.”
Ever since she was young, Hitch had a passion for philanthropy and helping others in different cultures. In middle school and high school, she got involved with a group of students who were raising money to help build a school in Ghana.
Then when she started college at UK, she began to go on various study abroad trips to South Africa, China, México, Argentina, Guatemala and Nicaragua where she was able to work with a lot of literacy and English language development programs in schools and with local non-governmental organizations.
“When I came to UK, I started really engaging with study abroad and intercultural experiences. I wanted to give back to the communities and create more opportunities for the people that I was meeting in those cultural experiences,” said Hitch. “Philanthropy was always the answer to that.”
Hitch is graduating from UK this December with plans to move to Mexico and work in a bilingual school. She is also a perusing a hybrid Masters degree program in Educational Technology with the goals of learning how to develop new language programs and make education more accessible around the world.
Looking towards the future, Hitch hopes to keep growing her nonprofit and expand it to other schools in various countries around the world through new technology.
“My goals for the future are to expand upon educational technology as a form of social justice and to use technology as an access point for language education.”
Body photo provided by Sydney Sparks