Compton Fellowships fund students’ service in Uganda and Sierra Leone

April 06, 2009
Kennedy Maring

Kennedy Maring

Lojuan Kennedy Maring, master’s student in health behavior and health education, has been selected to receive a $10,000 PRB Compton Fellowship award for an internship this summer in Masindi, Uganda.

“I would not say my journey has been incredible,” Maring says, but others would beg to differ.

Born in Southern Sudan, Maring left with his family to escape the civil war there and lived in a Ugandan refugee camp from the age of 5 until he was a sophomore in high school. When he took the national “Ordinary Level” exam to determine whether he could attend grades 11 and 12, he made one of the highest scores in Uganda, making him eligible for a scholarship to finish high school at the United World College of the Adriatic, in Duino, Italy.

“The idea behind the United World College campuses is that young people from all over the world learn about each other’s culture and experiences by living together in an environment that fosters learning and sharing,” Maring says. His campus included 200 students from 82 countries.

After completing high school in Italy, he studied at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., before being accepted into the master’s program at UNC.

“Kennedy represents the ‘global’ in the Gillings School of Global Public Health,” says Suzanne Maman, PhD, assistant professor of health behavior and health education and one of Maring’s teachers. “This award will take him full circle. As a student from sub-Saharan Africa, he will put the training he received in our department to good use, working on a program in Uganda this summer for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of AIDS.”

Maring says he values education as a means of meeting career and life goals. “I pursue my education because of my desire to get training that will make me more useful to my family and community,” he says. “I plan to return to Uganda and eventually to Sudan. There is great need for human capital there, especially in Southern Sudan. My goal is to become involved in health promotion and advocacy.”

He is enjoying his time here, as well. “I love my program and have made great friends,” he says. “I also get to watch some top-class basketball at the Dean Dome. I’m absolutely at home here.”

Jerrie Kumalah

Jerrie Kumalah

Last year, another of Maman’s students, Jerrie Kumalah, received the PRB Compton Fellowship award.

Kumalah moved with her family from Sierra Leone in 2000, seeking political asylum from that country’s civil war. She was recruited for the track team at the University of Pennsylvania -“a wonderful academic and athletic opportunity,” she says – and is now completing her master’s program in health behavior and health education here at UNC.

“Jerrie used the support she received through the Population Reference Bureau to return to Sierra Leone last summer to collect data on women’s reproductive health services,” Maman says. “Like Kennedy, she has been an outstanding student in our master’s program. While completing her coursework this year, she served as co-chair of the School’s Minority Student Caucus. Her commitment to resolving health inequalities transcends national boundaries.”

The Compton Foundation’s Fellowship Program aims to improve policies and programs in developing countries relating to peace and security, population and reproductive health, and environment and sustainable development by supporting outstanding graduate students committed to careers in the developing world.

The Population Reference Bureau (PRB), funded by private foundations, government agencies and individual donors, has managed the fellowship program since 2001.

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More about Maring will be available at

Read more about Kumalah at

UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or