Making a Difference Today, and in the Future
Natasha Takes on the World
Fly Like an Eagle
Natasha Sichula is a woman on the move.
The senior Cytotechnology major, whose home is a world away from Wisconsin in Mufulira, Zambia, has only recently slowed down enough to continue to answer the academic demands of her course of study.
When we caught up with her this semester, she had just returned from Geneva, Switzerland. She was one of 9 young people from around the world invited to speak at the Global Challenges Forum Foundation’s launch of “1M2030,” an initiative “to build a global movement of one million global youth leaders for sustainable development” by 2030. Natasha’s passion and what got the attention of the organizers? HERZ, the acronym for ‘Her Empowerment Race Zone,’ and is Natasha’s brainchild. HERZ advocates for distribution of free, sustainable sanitary care packages to girls in her hometown, and more; HERZ seeks to educate young women about women’s health, and change the culture around discussions about their own bodies.
“Talking about this is important to empower women,” Natasha says. “We can’t just guess what they need. We need to include them whenever we’re making policies, rules, and regulations. We need to include them so that they tell us, using their voice, what they need.”
In Geneva, she was reminded that advocacy for women’s health issues and education is a challenge – especially in developing countries around the globe.
After her presentation at the forum, a group of young women from India intercepted her. “They came to hug me and told me that menstrual health is a topic that is never discussed in their communities, and I said ‘that’s the same as it is in my country,” Natasha says. “Then they told me that I was their hero. They were amazed that a woman would also speak about a topic that is so important that is left out in our cultures.”
Natasha has been amazing many people these days. Before traveling to Switzerland, she was awarded one of 100 ‘green tickets’ to attend and speak at the Youth Climate Summit, held in September at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York.
It all started, Natasha says, when she earned first place at the first social impact pitch competition at Edgewood College in the spring of 2019.
“Winning created a platform where people could recognize that ‘she has a passion for this, and we should help her achieve her goals,’” she says. “Honestly I feel like that pitch competition created a platform for me.”
Now back in classes, with the rhythm of fall semester, she has time to reflect on the source of her drive, her passion, and her intellect.
“My mom is a strong, independent woman,” she says. “My dad died when I was 8 years old, and my mom had to take care of all 5 of my siblings. And because of her, I am here.”
Natasha attended Fatima Girls Secondary School, where the principal, Sr. Angela Mwaba, O.P., told her about Edgewood College.
“In Zambia, I went to Catholic boarding school. Learning the Dominican values, they have always been in me,” she says. “We learned about Veritas, and about the continuous search for Truth, and living a life of service, and of continuous learning. I feel like every time I learn something, I want to learn more – and that just inspires me.”
And she says learning has changed her – and continues to change her. She can barely contain her infectious laugh when asked ‘would the freshman Natasha recognize the senior Natasha?’
“I was so focused,” she says, when she’s able to stop laughing. “Come to school, get my degree, go out, start working. With Edgewood College and liberal arts, it shows you different parts of the world that you can impact. It’s not just a degree and then work – you can volunteer, you can do service, you can help other people in the world. I feel like being at a liberal arts college helps you grow into a well-rounded person.”
Someday she hopes to serve as an OB/GYN doctor, and perhaps even go farther. But the year 2019, and all its opportunities, has made an impression. Especially that group of young women from India, who ran up to the young woman from Zambia, to tell her how excited they were to hear her speak.
“My heart was filled at that moment,” she says. “And I remembered the words ‘the place where your talent meets the needs of the world is the job God has in mind for you.’”