Erykah's Story

Erykah Hearn never dreamed of studying abroad, but when the opportunity arose to travel to Johannesburg, South Africa, she couldn't say no.


When Erykah Hearn learned she’d been selected for the prestigious Sanders-ALA Intern Program for six weeks in Johannesburg, South Africa, she was worried about leaving the country. Now she is glad she decided to step out of her comfort zone.

“Before getting this scholarship, I don’t believe I would’ve ever studied abroad,” Erykah says. “Now I want to study in different places and take what I learned from the African Leadership Academy and use it wherever I go next.”

Though she knew a staff member had nominated her for the award, established by RMU Trustee and former U.S. Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders, Erykah didn’t believe she would be chosen. But when she got the news, after deliberating with her family, Erykah decided to seize the opportunity to experience something new.

She worked as an intern at the African Leadership Academy, a school that prepares teenage kids from all over the world to become Africa’s next leaders. Erykah managed all communication and social media between students, parents, and faculty.

“Now that I’m back from my trip I’ve realized how much I can do,” says Erykah. “The experience took my personal limitations off myself and opened my eyes to see that there’s more to the world than the 50 states.”

Erykah wants other students to have the same incredible study abroad experience she did. She works with the RMU Center for Global Engagement to share her story with others who are interested in visiting Africa and encourages them to go abroad. 

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