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College of Arts and Sciences Newsroom

University of Dayton and Human Rights Studies program Director Hudson honored for supporting nonprofit that serves former Ugandan street children

By Allison Brace ’22

Child Restoration Outreach Support Organization awarded Natalie Hudson ’01, associate professor of political science and director of University of Dayton Human Rights Studies program, its Spark Award for connecting the non-profit organization to the University, providing 25 students to date with internship opportunities.

In 2018, Hudson helped start the organization’s first internship program, which has since expanded to include students from other U.S. colleges and universities. Since the program’s launch, university students have provided more than 4,000 hours of service to the organization.

Child Restoration Outreach Support Organization (CROSO) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to making possible the transformation of Ugandan communities by providing post-secondary education scholarships to former street children in Uganda.

“Since I direct the Human Rights Studies program, working with CROSO clearly benefits my majors and minors, but I honestly see it more as an invaluable relationship for students across the College of Arts and Sciences,'' Hudson said. “This is why I have really pursued this partnership as a unique opportunity for many different majors.” 

Hudson has been working with University of Dayton alumna Molly MacCready ’08, who founded CROSO in 2007 while still an undergraduate student. She now serves as executive director of the Chicago-based organization.

MacCready spent the fall of her junior year in Uganda studying and volunteering while earning her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University. She returned to Uganda the following summer through the University of Dayton’s International Learn, Lead and Serve grant. MacCready volunteered with Child Restoration Outreach, who has since become CROSO’s partner organization in Uganda, where she learned more about Ugandan educational systems.

Hudson, who joined the University faculty in 2007, sparked a relationship with MacCready after the latter received the University’s 2017 Joe Belle Memorial Young Alumni Award. 

“After hearing about Molly receiving the Young Alumni Award and learning a bit more about her organization, we had the opportunity to meet for coffee,” Hudson said. “I wanted to congratulate her and learn a little bit more about the work she was doing. This began the conversation about what it would look like for her to have some student interns from UD.”

Internships are open to students from all academic disciplines. 

“I was connected with CROSO via Dr. Hudson, who was looking for students to be the first round of CROSO interns,” said Kaitlynrose Bicek ’18, who holds a degree in international studies. “Dr. Hudson and Dr. Dan Birdsong were instrumental in setting it all up and providing support during and after my time with CROSO. They were both fantastic and helped me see how I could use my internship to my greatest advantage.”

CROSO is designed to give students the opportunity to work remotely while helping them understand the work that goes into effectively running a non-profit organization. The remote flexibility also provides opportunities to students who cannot take time off from school to complete an internship. CROSO's goal is to provide an equitable internship experience for students regardless of status.

“Molly is an awesome mentor for UD students; she recognizes what 19-20-year-olds need to come into this space and really contribute but also have room to learn,” said Hudson. “She values their views and ideas but realizes that they do need a strong mentor. She helps to teach interns what it means to work remotely while being able to make an impact. Students have really found the experience very valuable.”

Since CROSO is a small nonprofit, interns have the opportunity to learn different skills, including grant writing, working with Ugandan scholarship recipients, profiling past scholarship recipients, managing social media, budgets and donor relations. Some interns have the opportunity to connect with scholarship recipients remotely. 

“Although I have volunteered for nonprofits before, I had no idea the extent of work that is put into maintaining these organizations,'' said Amira Fitzpatrick, a senior sociology and criminal justice double major from Lake Villa, Illinois. “CROSO was a really great learning opportunity for me, especially with it being my first virtual internship, and I gained experience with writing, budget forecasting, donor communication and event planning.” 

Hudson and the University of Dayton were honored with the award Sept. 12 at the 14th annual CROSO Benefit Kick-Off Event.

Hudson said partnership between CROSO and the University allows students to reach beyond the campus community and make a difference across the globe. 

“Being part of the UD community, it made sense for me to meet with Molly for coffee and then build this relationship,” Hudson said. “I think the award is a neat representation for how the UD community continues to live on. I really believe that the award is less about me and more about how we connect our alumni and students to one another.”

For more information about CROSO or to make a donation, visit the organization's website.

For more information about the Human Rights Studies program, visit the program’s website.

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