This week we meet Clara Luthman, an alumna of the master’s programme in Global studies, international relations, and political science, who graduated in 2017 and now works to fund higher education for students in East Africa as CEO of the crowdfunding platform Help to Help.
What have you been up to since you graduated from Lund University in 2017?
I started off working at the Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) as well as the Swedish armed forces. Thereafter I joined the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. However, after having worked with policy formulation for quite some time, I wanted to be more involved in the hands-on part of our work, and I found the opportunity do so with the organization Help to Help. I applied and began my career there as the Chief Operating Officer and then just last year I took over as Vice Director (CEO).
What does the average day look like for you and what does the organization do?
The organization provides support to young people in Uganda and Tanzania (we call them changemakers) to get the tools they need to create change in their own communities and improve their own lives. We believe the best way to do this is through education and we offer a Scholarship Program that covers the cost for tuition for students to study in Tanzania and Uganda. We also have the Help to Help Academy to prepare students for the labour market, as well as IT bootcamps, workshops on entrepreneurship and essential skills like writing a CV, landing an interview, knowing your rights in the labour market and so on. At the end of the day it’s all about giving the youth the tools they need so that they themselves can find what motivates them, because they really are changemakers, with brilliant and ambitious ideas, but who might just need a bit of support along the way to make that happen.
You were both the communication leader for the Lund Carnival in 2014 and the Recruitment Manager for Radio AF in 2012. How did you balance this with your studies?
It was possible to manage most of the times, but sometimes my grades…well, you can see the times when I was very busy. In some ways, however, I felt that my extracurricular work such as working on the Lund Carnival taught me the most valuable lessons because I learned about project management, leadership, and working in a team. Despite being very challenging at times, I managed, and even took a break for one semester to focus on the carnival full-time. All in all it was an amazing experience. We were a group of 14 people overseeing it, but over 5,000 volunteers were involved in it which made it quite fun. That was also the beauty of it; you create fun for others by having fun yourself.
What is your best memory from your time as a student?
Oh that´s a difficult one. I think the best one is from the last day of the carnival where everything was going on all at once and a few of us in the steering committee went up to the roof on AF Borgen and looked out over the Lundagård and saw everything happening. We even had fireworks…but it just so happened to be cloudy so no one could see them.
What part of your job gives you the greatest satisfaction?
It is when I see the actual impact of our work. When I meet students who we have supported, and see what they have done with that opportunity, that gives me a lot of satisfaction.