Updated: Sep 2, 2019

Jenna Peters

Over the past six weeks, I have been teaching entrepreneurship and financial literacy to students at the Women’s Institute for Secondary Education and Research (WISER). On Saturdays I teach a curriculum that is a blend of an innovation curriculum developed by Innovation Education International, information about entrepreneurship from the Internet, and the Kenyan national business studies curriculum. On Tuesdays, I have been teaching the Engineering Club how to pair entrepreneurship with engineering to create and maybe someday sell products that are tailored to the needs of the community.

In both of these courses, we have learned that the key first step to innovation and entrepreneurship is to identify needs in the target community. When I say “we have learned,” I mean that the material is almost as new to me as it is to them. Though there are 17 required classes for neuroscience majors, the process of innovation is not covered in any of them. Teaching the curriculum probably helps me to learn the material as much as it helps my students.

This summer, I am not only learning about needs finding and other steps in the process of innovation, but I am also trying to apply this knowledge to create an independent project for a senior thesis. I have been observing at the Tagache Health Center, the nearest clinic to WISER, and I plan to examine some other healthcare-related settings in Muhuru Bay before I leave. As a pre-med student and a Global Women’s Health Technologies (GWHT) Fellow, I am interested in finding a health-related need that I (in partnership with WISER and GWHT) can help address through some sort of tech project.

I don’t think I realized the perfect connection between what I was teaching and what I was going to do as a project until about a week into my time here. When I returned from observing at the clinic, I typed up my notes then began thinking about what needs I could infer from my observations. My first entrepreneurship lesson jumped into my mind. All of the information I had given the girls on what a need actually is and how to write a needs statement was relevant to what I was trying to do. Throughout the remaining weeks, I have used many of the other lessons I have taught in thinking about a potential independent project.

Being able to apply the lessons I am learning/teaching to a real-world project has been both exciting and satisfying. I can only dream that my students will have similar opportunities to apply what we have learned together in their future careers and academic endeavors.

-- Jenna Peters

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