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Deirdre Hand - VirginiaTech

Deirdre Hand Co-Founder, Elimisha Kakuma

Deirdre Hand is a co-founder of Elimisha Kakuma, a university preparation and access program that supports students in Kakuma Refugee Camp to access higher education. She co-founded Elimisha Kakuma in 2021 with Mary Maker, Diing Manyang, and Dudi Miabok, and early on they partnered with Virginia Tech’s Center for Refugee, Migrant, and Displacement Studies (CRMDS), who has supported Elimisha by providing student interns who became tutors to EK’s students as well as professors and instructors to teach Elimisha students in Kakuma online through zoom and canvas.

Since beginning her role as the Community Engagement Specialist at CRMDS, she along with the CRMDS team, have been actively working to bring a refugee student to VT’s campus. Deirdre and the CRMDS team have been building an ECAR (Every Campus a Refuge) chapter at Virginia Tech, working with other community organizations and people from VT’s campus who would love to help host a refugee student on campus.

Having the perspective of her students from Kakuma Refugee Camp as well as the perspective from the university side, where there is a strong will to welcome refugee students, she is hopeful that more universities can open their campuses to welcoming talented refugee students who will enrich their campuses in ways that cannot be quantified.