College’s Humanitarian of the Year discovers making a difference in Africa

March 1, 2019

Florida State University senior Sarah Grice-Fitzgerald found what she believes will be a lifelong calling last summer when she spent two months volunteering in the African countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi.

Equipped with microphones and digital cameras, she and two other young women were tasked by New International, a worldwide Christian ministry, with producing videos that relate the stories of people and organizations making a positive impact on their local communities.



“Our goal was to develop a platform for local people and nonprofit organizations to tell stories of hope,” said Grice-Fitzgerald, a marketing major minoring in film. “There are thousands of Africans working to better their communities, and we worked with various organizations, which are doing amazing work. Because they rely on donations to advance their missions, the videos are posted on their websites and social media and used as fundraising tools.”

For her part of the effort, Grice-Fitzgerald received the honor of College of Business Humanitarian of the Year. On March 26, she and students representing each of FSU’s colleges, will be recognized at a luncheon hosted by President John Thrasher. They now are in the running for the President's Undergraduate Humanitarian of the Year Award. The university-wide honor will be awarded April 9 during Leadership Awards Night. A $1,000 donation will be given to a nonprofit agency of the winner’s choice.

“We are incredibly proud of Sarah for her volunteer service,” said Dean Michael Hartline. “When you consider the heavy academic load students carry and realize they still make an effort to extend themselves by doing the kind of work she is doing, it’s pretty awe-inspiring.”

In Rwanda, the team interviewed members of an organization that educates farmers on best practices. In Malawi, they interviewed a man who provides hot lunches for children from neighboring villages. And in Uganda, they compiled stories of organizations that build schools and medical facilities.  

“Going to Africa was a life-altering experience for me,” Grice-Fitzgerald said. “I learned there is a need for people who can create content that legitimatizes an organization and helps it accomplish its mission. My films have impacted the communities by spreading the vision, mission and work that is being done by these organizations and greatly increasing the chances that people will donate.”

When Grice-Fitzgerald graduates in May, she will begin a full-time position with New International. After a month or so at home in Lakeland, she and husband, Donovan Grice-Fitzgerald, who also graduates from FSU this spring and landed a job with the organization, will travel around the world, to continue her work as a storyteller.

For an example of one of Grice-Fitzgerald’s videos, click here .


- Barbara Ash