AAS students create nonprofit Pencil Project to aid Ghana youth

Today, a story I wrote was published on the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences website about two African American Studies students who have created a new non-profit organization to benefit schoolchildren in Ghana.

The story is part of the ongoing Student Spotlight series. I also took the photo that accompanies the story.

I interviewed Hannah McConn and Randryia Houston, two African American Studies students who started a non-profit group called The Pencil Project, for an article that appears on the college website.

Here are the first three graphs from the article:

It was a comment made by a school administrator in Ghana to a studying abroad group of UH African American Studies students that started it — the revelation that elementary school students in the African country drop out at an early age as a result of something as little as not having a pencil to do their work.

That single complaint frustrated Randryia Houston and Hannah McConn, two of the students who participated in the AAS Summer Study Abroad in Ghana trip that summer in 2009. A friend of theirs, Tiffany Lester — an English major and former president of the Resident Hall Association — came up with the idea that they should start a big school supply drive.

“When we got back, we were really frustrated,” McConn said. “We knew that we wanted to help the Ghanaian people in some way, but we didn’t really know how, and we kind of felt that as students, we didn’t have the means or revenue to do so in a huge way. So, she (Lester) suggested we just start with pencils.”

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