African studies graduate Clayton Boeyink ’10 is now Refugee Mental Health Program Coordinator for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. In the first Iowa position of its kind in over 15 years, Clayton gets to build this program from the ground up.
How did you start working with refugees? I developed a huge passion for refugees while working for Catholic Charities’ Refugee Resettlement Program. I helped refugees find jobs in Iowa, and I wanted to see what they experienced before coming to the U.S. So I got a Master of Africa and International Development degree at the University of Edinburgh and conducted fieldwork among Somali refugees in Nairobi, Kenya.
What Central experiences have shaped your career? I really developed a love of learning at Central. Many professors, including Dr. Zaffiro, Dr. Yanner, Dr. Jones and Dr. Witt, inspired me to explore our social world and not take it for granted.
How did you choose your major, African studies? I took African Civilizations with Dr. Zaffiro as a freshman and fell in love with learning about the continent. The history, politics and cultures of Africa are incredibly captivating to me. There is so much innovation and resiliency within this group of people.
Do you have a favorite story from Central? My favorites involve shenanigans and tomfoolery in Pietenpol Hall that I’ll leave to the reader’s imagination. All of my best memories involve the friends I made at Central, many of whom are still my best friends today.
What’s on your bucket list? I’d like to become more fluent in Swahili. I developed a solid proficiency while traveling throughout Kenya and Tanzania for three months through the University of Edinburgh. Also, I want to visit Bhutan, a country in Southern Asia that is home to many refugees with whom I work.