Students plan big climb to help women’s causes

Project Elevation

Project Elevation organizers Batina
Brockamp, right, and Krista Jankowski are
raising funds for two women’s causes through
a plan to climb Mount Kilamanjaro.
(Photo by Sally Asher)

Eight young women - including one Tulane public health student – aspire to climb to new heights — 19,341 feet to be exact. Starting from a low point in Louisiana, the eight women led by team leader Batina Brockamp strive to bring awareness to women’s causes by ascending to the highest point in Africa — Mount Kilimanjaro.

Frustrated by news of violence against women, Brockamp, a geology student in the School of Continuing Studies, wanted to transform her feeling of helplessness into one of hopefulness. Inspired by her Tulane Gender and Sexuality class taught by Erica Dudas, Brockamp created Project Elevation, an organization that seeks to fight violence against women and demonstrate to all women their innate strength.

To lead by example, Brockamp (who has never hiked before) and the seven other women from across the globe will climb Kilimanjaro this June. The group aims to raise $20,000 to divide between two charities — Women with a Vision, a local group that works to improve the lives of marginalized women, and Give a Heart to Africa, an organization located in Moshi, Tanzania, that empowers women through education.

Jackie Hellen Project Elevation

SPHTM student Jackie Hellen is serving as
fitness coordinator for the Mount Kilimanjaro
climb in June 2013.

Jackie Hellen, a student in the Department of Global Health Systems and Development, delayed her graduation to participate in the hike. She was a competitive rower in high school and for the division one Boston University team and is using her past experience with exercise to serve as the women’s fitness coordinator. Hellen worked with Jane Bertrand, global health systems and development chair, on a Gates Foundation grant doing research on family planning in Burkina Faso and the DRC.

While travelling for research, she says, “I made aware of the fertility trials and tribulations faced by disadvantaged women.”  Hellen was inspired to get involved in Project Elevation because she wants to dedicate her career to expanding reproductive choice for women and preventing maternal and infant death due to obstetric complications in developing countries.

“This project gives me the opportunity to help women directly in the community I love as well as abroad while I am in graduate school,” she says. Hellen plans to finish her classes and graduate in fall 2013.

Krista Jankowski, a doctoral student in earth and environmental sciences, is unable to make the hike because of academic commitments, but assists the project in generating awareness and resources.

“It’s not just the hikers who are able to get their sense of accomplishment from Project Elevation. Passing out flyers, educating people, and helping fundraising are all something of value,” Jankowski says.

“This is my community coming together,” Brockamp says about the artists, musicians, and businesses that have joined to help her reach her goal. “I want to challenge myself and others to help make an impact.”




Reprinted with permission from Tulane New Wave.
April 12, 2013
Sally Asher 


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