I went into my sophomore year at Juniata with a full schedule. Three jobs, two internships, and a full load of credits. Never in a million years did I think I would have the time or the ability to co-found a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) as an undergrad.
The NGO I cofounded with two of my great friends, Evelyn McCammon and Sarah Borgardt, is called The Gambian Art Coalition. It was an idea brought to us by Professor Nagengast in the Politics department. He’s been travelling to The Gambia for the past 15 years and has made many great friends amongst the Gambians.
At the Gambian Art Coalition, our goal is to promote sustainable development in The Gambia through partnering with local artists and investing in their communities. We will be travelling to The Gambia for five weeks this summer to meet artists and learn more about the country. We will spend three weeks with Nagengast and other Juniata students, and stay an additional two weeks to do the ground work for G.A.C.
We are working with Juniata College’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (JCEL) and the Sill Business Incubator to develop the business model for the Gambian Art Coalition. In March, we earned a position with the NextStep Fellowship – a program run through the JCEL. Through the NextStep Fellowship, we are provided with funds to run customer interviews and software to help us design our business plan.
I hold the position of Director of Communications of The Gambian Art Coalition. As the Director of Communications, I am in charge of managing social media, writing product descriptions, and writing the stories of our artists.
Being a professional writing POE, I have already had some classroom experience with communications in classes like Writing Across Media with Hannah Bellwoar and Professional News and Feature writing with Will Dickey. Several of the professors in the English and Communications departments have been providing me with some insight into the best ways to present my writing – how to mold it to fit our message and how to produce a professional piece of writing.
We are competing during the Student Start-up Showcase at this year’s Liberal Arts Symposium. Soon after we will pitch to receive Seed Capital from the Business Incubator.
Follow us on social media to keep up with our progress: @gambianartcoalition on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
–Julia Newman ’21, Professional Writing POE, Co-Founder of the Gambian Art Coalition