Sean Grossnickle, a Belmont junior and international business major, is spending the summer in Senegal as a Lumos Scholar. Having been there for just over a month already, Grossnickle will be in the country until the middle of August living in Saint Louis, just a few hours north of the capital, Dakar. While there, he is serving as an intern with Projects Abroad’s microfinance program, an opportunity that provides disadvantaged men and women in the community with the opportunity to improve their lives through loans of $50-$300.
“I get to do just about everything, which is really cool,” Grossnickle said. “I help collect repayments from people who already have loans, teach classes to potential beneficiaries (in French, of course!), draw up business plans, make formal loan presentations and give questionnaires to check on participants. I get to walk with people every step of the way and see the difference our program makes in their lives.”
As a Lumos Scholar, Grossnickle began preparing for his summer abroad last fall–completing his application, researching the opportunity and proposed budgetary needs and preparing for such an intensive experience. Created to transform student lives by embarking on a self-designed international working adventure, Grossnickle said he was interested in taking part in a Lumos project in Senegal as a way to deepen his understanding of international business, improve his French skills and put his learning in action. “I felt like I could make a difference in people’s lives while gaining invaluable skills that I hope to use professionally.”
Moving forward, Grossnickle is interested in pursuing international business after graduation–he’s hoping this summer will provide clarity into whether microfinance is his niche. Of course, he’s especially interested in putting his French speaking skills to good use.
Featured image: Ladies in one of Grossnickle’s microfinance classes participate in a lesson.