In the wake of personal tragedy, UC student resolves to solve health problems in her native Uganda

CINCINNATI – As a child in the poor, remote village of Kabingo in Uganda, Maria Nakafeero listened to the stories about her older sister's untimely death. Then, she saw three more siblings die from malaria, fever, and infection, including a sister who was six months pregnant.

As she grew and excelled in school, Nakafeero came to realize that all of their deaths were from treatable causes. Now 27, she is earning a master's in public health at University of Cincinnati, with dreams of modernizing her home's health care and infrastructure to prevent more needless deaths.

"One of my wildest dreams is to work with international health agencies – Unicef, the World Health Organization," Nakafeero said with a bright smile. "So many people have helped me come to this place. I'm more than happy to be a servant of others."

James O'Reilly, a volunteer law professor at UC, became one of those helpers when he selected her as the first recipient of a new full scholarship that he has established with a $100,000 gift.

Become a WCPO Insider to learn more about the obstacles Maria overcame to study in Cincinnati.

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