Women Who Empower: Jackline Oluoch-Aridi

Author: Colleen Wilcox

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This story is part of Notre Dame International's series titled "Women Who Empower."

“If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

Jackline Oluoch-Aridi lives by her favorite African Proverb and is a firm believer in the power of collaboration.

As the director of Nairobi initiatives for Notre Dame International (NDI), she’s tasked with deepening the University’s engagement in Africa through collaborative research, student engagement, and academic partnerships. It’s no easy task, but Oluoch-Aridi is up for the challenge and is passionate about strengthening partnerships in the region.

As a research scientist with a public health background, she is passionate about conducting cutting-edge field research that responds to current challenges and has an impact on the community she serves.

Oluoch-Aridi brings that passion to NDI, fulfilling the University’s mission to facilitate rich faculty collaborations on the African continent. Since coming on board to NDI, she’s established Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) with several partner institutions. She is working to expand potential partnerships with several universities to facilitate study abroad opportunities and research collaborations. She’s hosting three IREX fellows from Nigeria and Ghana and supporting their research management capacity. Oluoch-Aridi is also serving as the partnership lead for the Pamoja Initiative, a vibrant cross-disciplinary initiative to deepen engagement with the African continent through collaborative research, teaching, innovation, and policy outreach.

Her latest collaboration is with Strathmore University and the Harvey Institute at Northwestern University. This particular research is focused on expanding primary healthcare by promoting visual acuity screening by community health workers using smartphones. As a principal investigator, she is leading the implementation of the research in the informal settlement of Dandora in partnership with the Brother Andre Hospital, which was founded by the Holy Cross congregation and has transformed the lives of women and children in Nairobi. The initiative is funded by the Ford Program with the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. 

“I care deeply about how the University can increase diversity through extended engagement with the African continent and viewing the role of Africa as producing innovative ideas,” says Oluoch-Aridi. “This is how our University can be a force for good.”

She’s also passionate about supporting undergraduate students. This summer, she’s hosting three Notre Dame students for the Global Professional Experience (GPE) program in Kenya. This is the second cohort of this program and they will participate in a seven week immersive professional experience based at a partner institution in Nairobi. Oluoch-Aridi is also supporting four Center for Social Concerns students this summer as part of the NDBridge program.

“My hope is that students gain valuable experience, learn, and grow while contributing their talents, perspectives, and values to the organization,” she says. “It's a very transformational experience for the students.”

She continues to provide these transformational experiences for students, faculty, and partners while also building and growing the University’s presence in Africa.

Learn more about Dr. Oluoch-Aridi’s background and check out the full Women Who Empower series.