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Sydney Schaef

Sydney Schaef

Kujali International

Career Roadmap

Sydney's work combines: Education, Entrepreneurship, and Upholding a Cause and Belief

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Day In The Life

Executive Director

I run a non-profit that leads innovative programs in education, youth advocacy, and social enterprise for disadvantaged youth in East Africa.

Skills & Education

Here's the path I took:

  • High School

  • Bachelor's Degree

    University of Florida

  • Graduate Degree

    Business Administration and Management, General

    University of Florida

  • Graduate Degree

    Education, General

    University of Florida

Here's the path I recommend for someone who wants to be a Social and Community Service Managers:

High School

Bachelor's Degree: History, General

Graduate Degree: Education/Teaching of Individuals with Speech or Language Impairments

Learn more about different paths to this career

Life & Career Milestones

My path in life took a while to figure out

  • 1.

    Completed an internship in New Orleans that exposed me to urban poverty & educational inequity.

  • 2.

    Studied abroad in Tanzania to expand my worldview & experience life in a "developing" nation.

  • 3.

    Started a non-profit, Kujali, to address educational inequities in TZ with a local partner NGO.

  • 4.

    Joined Teach For America, taught middle school science in South Central LA, and earned a M.ED.

  • 5.

    Moved to TZ to work full-time for Kujali to support our first school launch for orphaned youth.

  • 6.

    Was awarded the Skoll Scholarship for Entrepreneurship to attend Oxford University and get an M.B.A.

  • 7.

    Returned to the U.S. to work to improve education here at home, finding love & ready to grow roots.

  • 8.

    Stumbled upon a chance to help innovate in school model design in the district of my new home city.

Defining Moments

How I responded to discouragement


    Messages from Society in general:

    'Those who can't, teach.' In my early twenties, I was discouraged from entering the field of education by some members in my family who believed it was a dead-end career, for people lacking talent and real capabilities. I didn't take it personally!

  • How I responded:

    I knew that my worldview had become very different from that of some of my family: I was passionate about social justice, and I believed deeply that education was a fundamental pathway to building greater equity & opportunity. Should you take advice from people who don't share your values? That never made sense to me. It might disappoint family in the short-term, but it wasn't worth a lifetime of regret. Mary Oliver says it best, "what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Experiences and challenges that shaped me

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  • Experiencing financial hardship enabled me to learn very important lessons about financial management, budgeting, and discipline. It was tough- getting through college working several jobs, running a nonprofit with limited resources- but so worth it.

  • I came out to my (very conservative) family & community when I was in my early 20s. There was so much judgment & rejection. I was grateful that I had gone to college and met so many caring, open people who loved & accepted me - it got me through it.