Journey- Abby Frericks

Photo by Dylan Huebner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name: Abby Frericks

Age: 21

College: Health Sciences ‘13

Major: Physician Assistant Studies

Campus Activities: Global Medical Brigades, Midnight Run, Sigma Delta Pi

 

In the fields of Son Bolovo, Abby Frericks saw children working, the sun beating down on their necks. While American kids sat comfortably at their desks, complaining about homework and pop quizzes, many children of El Salvador picked corn and beans, their families lacking the money necessary to afford their children’s schooling.

Frericks, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, studied abroad in El Salvador in the fall of 2011 and has since started a charity, Educate El Salvador, to address a crucial problem she saw in the Central American country.

“There is such a lack of importance on education (in El Salvador),” Frericks said.

Frericks’ mission with Educate El Salvador is to send five kids to high school every year. The $200 per student price tag covers books, uniforms and bus fare. Without that money, the kids would probably have to drop out of school, adding even more menial laborers to a country whose citizens, Frericks said, have an average of a 6th grade education.

“(Lack of education) fuels the cycle of poverty,” Frericks said. “They’re working in the fields, not getting education, and then their kids aren’t getting an education.”

El Salvador’s schools are too few in number, Frericks said, making it difficult for kids to find schools within a manageable distance from their homes. This makes graduating from high school no small feat in El Salvador.

“In the United States, the difference between graduating from high school and graduating from college is huge with the type of jobs you can get,” she said. “While that’s still the case in El Salvador, there are a lot fewer college degrees,” so a high school degree is worth a great deal.

Educate El Salvador got its start after Frericks volunteered at a health care clinic in San Salvador, El Salvador’s capital.

She worked with social workers to improve the lives of those in rural communities, creating fish farms and educating the people about health care. And this is also where she learned about the plight of the uneducated in El Salvador, which led her to form a partnership with the social workers to create her charity. Right now, Frericks is in charge of the fundraising, while the social workers select candidates and supervise the distribution of funds.

Frericks is conducting her fundraising through the charity’s website that she created.

The social workers in El Salvador select scholarship recipients based on need and the student’s desire to use his or her education to give back to the community.

While Frericks said she would ideally like to send as many kids as possible to school in El Salvador, she settled on funding five scholarships in the first year because she had to focus her fundraising efforts almost exclusively on friends and family. And because the first day of school for the scholarship recipients was Jan. 23 of this year, Frericks had little time for fundraising after returning to the U.S.. She hopes to increase the scope of the program by getting students involved at Marquette, and plans to do so by chartering Educate El Salvador as an official organization at Marquette.

While education is Frericks’ primary charitable focus for now, after college she wants to put her physician’s assistant major to use.

“My ideal, ideal dream is to start a clinic in Central America,” she said.

For now, though, Frericks is satisfied knowing that at least five more kids in El Salvador won’t have to pick in the fields this school year.