Each morning in Ghana, Olivia Kitt and other students in her May term were given a word to reflect upon throughout the day. Kitt, a senior from Roanoke, VA, studies Political Science and Sociology at Roanoke, with a concentration in Legal Studies. Kitt often reflected on Ghanaian welfare. “This is something that Ghana really struggles with,” Kitt disclosed. Kitt described the trip as “service-learning based,” so she spent her days at one of three service sites. Understanding and improving Ghana’s welfare was one of the main objectives of the program.
In a group of mainly sociologists, Kitt offered a different perspective to the group’s nightly discussions with her political science background—how do Ghana’s welfare programs assist the improvised areas she was working with?
“We would compare our experiences in Ghana to those we had in America. What I loved most about this time was hearing what others picked up on or experienced that I didn’t. It gave variety to our conversations, showing how we can all be in the same place and take away different perspectives.”
After her May term, Kitt spent some time in Washington, D.C. as a legislative intern for Senator Tim Kain. The role of a legislative intern is to run the office—taking phone calls from constituents, taking notes at hearings/briefings for the legislative staff, and compiling memos for the state team.
However, Kitt didn’t take off running. It took her two weeks to settle into her internship. “I remember being so overwhelmed my first two weeks in the office. I didn’t truly understand what my role was or how I could contribute.” Kitt sought every opportunity to learn. She even reached out to correspondents of other areas she was intrigued in. “They said yes and were so happy to receive my summary of the hearing.” Every intern should have a curious mindset, and “ask what you can do to help.”
Kitt’s favorite senate memory was a “hidden gem” she uncovered during a special tour of the capitol building. Interns have a special badge to enter parts of the capitol building the public cannot. “One of these gems was an original bathtub on the Senate side that Senators would use after traveling for long distances to make sure they didn’t smell while on the floor.”
When she is back on campus, Kitt is very active. Her honoraries include Alpha Phi Omega, Alpha Kappa Delta, the Academic Integrity Council, Maroon Baptist Fellowship, Student Government Association, and has been a member of the Maroon Ambassador program since her freshmen year. Over the course of her six terms as a student senator, Kitt served as both the secretary and student body president during her time as a student senator. As a four-year member, she now serves as the secretary for the Maroon Baptist Fellowship—an on-campus program which allows students to “articulate their faith and figure out what it means to be a Christian while in college and in life,” explains Kitt, and is a member of a leadership team for Maroon Ambassadors.
To anyone debating studying abroad, or even in D.C., Kitt urges you to keep an open mind: “Fully immerse yourself in the culture.” Her three weeks in Ghana were transformative, and one of the most important experiences during her years at Roanoke. “Give yourself the opportunity to do the same. Go to a place that you have always been dreaming to travel to. You will learn so much and see the world in a whole new light!”