Student Spotlight: Daisy Mairura

Practical nursing major travels to Tanzania

In March 2018, Daisy Mairura completed a 12-day adventure to Tanzania, a country with nearly 56 million people on the east-central coast of Africa. Daisy traveled with a group led by Anna Verhoye, PhD, a speech communication instructor at Dakota County Technical College.

Anna is the founder, chair and director of the La Paz International Foundation, a charitable organization that provides grants and microloans to indigenous people to start social enterprises. Since 2002, La Paz has taken students and faculty from all over the U.S. on more than 55 immersive journeys to economically challenged communities around the world, emphasizing peace and justice education across the disciplines.

“Daisy participated on a journey to the mountains of Tanzania, where we supported the creation of five social enterprises, four in one village and one in a larger town,” Anna said. “Daisy was amazing. She was born in Nairobi, Kenya, and speaks fluent Swahili. She served as our translator on the trip.”

Daisy is an 18-year-old freshman in the Practical Nursing program at DCTC. She learned about the Tanzania trip in Anna’s Interpersonal Communication class. She was able to return to her home continent while earning five college credits from an invaluable learning experience, which included working on a Women’s Pottery Project in a mountain village, going on a bow-hunting outing with Hazabe tribesmen and meeting time-honored metalworkers from the Datoga tribe.

She also got the chance to reunite with her dad, Richard, a retired schoolteacher who traveled to Tanzania to meet his daughter. He still lives in Kenya and she hadn’t seen him for six years.

“I moved from Kenya to Minnesota in 2009 to join my mom and my sister, Gloria,” said Daisy, a 2017 graduate of Maplewood Academy. Swahili is her first language and she also learned to speak British English while going to school in Nairobi. “My mom’s a CNA and Gloria is studying at Century College to be an RN. They have both inspired me to become a nurse.”

More about the Tanzania trip…

One of the main undertakings on the journey was building a ceramic kiln for a cooperative of women potters. The women are master potters living in extreme poverty. Their pottery is beautiful yet fragile because they couldn’t afford to have their own kiln for firing their ware. Gustavo Martinez, ceramics faculty at Green River Community College in Washington State, accompanied the La Paz group to provide the expertise needed to build the new kiln.

“Gustavo worked with local masons, showing them how design and construct the kiln,” Anna said. “Everyone pitched in to help, even the village children.”

Some of Daisy’s favorite memories from her trip include the “awesome views” of 16,000-foot Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, as well as visiting kids in their classrooms at a Catholic School and arriving at the mountain village with the pottery cooperative.

“About forty women welcomed us to their village,” she recalled. “They were so happy to see us. They were singing and dancing. It was so cool.”

She very much enjoyed following a band of Hazabe nomads while they flushed and shot birds using handmade bows and arrows. She was impressed by their distinctive clicking language, which she did not try to translate. She was also impressed by the  jewelry created by Datoga artisans from scavenged junk metal.

“I had a wonderful time and learned so much about the people of Tanzania,” Daisy said. “I loved working as an interpreter and felt so at home in Africa. I felt like I belonged there.”

Tanzania gallery

Photos courtesy of Daisy Mairura

More about Daisy…

Daisy works in the college’s Enrollment Services department while going to school. She serves as Student Senate secretary and has participated in LeadMN events, including the 2018 General Assembly at the Breezy Point Resort. She recommends that students engage in extracurricular activities beyond the classroom to broaden their education and strengthen their resumes.

After earning her Practical Nursing diploma at DCTC in fall 2018, Daisy plans to transfer to the Nursing program at Inver Hills Community College. Her goal is to earn her Associate of Science (A.S.) in Nursing and become a registered nurse (RN) before pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.).

“I want to be a nurse because I like working with people,” she said. “My long-term goal is to become a nurse anesthetist (CRNA).”

When she’s not studying or working, Daisy enjoys karaoke and hanging out with friends and family. Along with Gloria, she has four sisters total, including June, 22, a Minnesota State Mankato grad, Becky, 16, a PSEO student at DCTC, and Effie, 14, a freshman at Apple Valley High School. Daisy resides in Burnsville, Minnesota.

More about Anna Verhoye…

Anna Verhoye

Anna Verhoye teaches speech and communication classes in the General Education department at DCTC. Anna started working at the college in 2002. She earned her Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in 2015.

She has a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Social Justice from Marygrove College in Detroit, Michigan, an M.A. in Human Communications from San Diego State University, and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Speech Communication and Rhetoric, also from SDSU.

Along with teaching, Anna has done executive coaching for major companies across the United States and continues to work as a communicologist, or communications skills coach, specializing in interpersonal and family communication. She is a certified trainer on the prevention of child abuse and is socially active on issues related to peace and justice.

Regarding her teaching philosophy, Anna reports: “My teaching is student-centered, open, creative and energetic. Student participation in course discussion is critical to the success of a class. Rigor is expected. As an educator, my job is like a coach. I will give a student all the materials and resources she or he needs to encourage success, but it is up to the student to do the workout.”

Anna added that she is passionate about learning and hopeful that students embrace their own learning. “Student and teacher accountability is critical for the success of any class,” she said.

Learning with and alongside students on their academic journeys is the best part of Anna’s job as a DCTC instructor.

In her free time, Anna loves traveling the world. She’s been to Thailand, Hungary, India, Guatemala and Peru, not to mention Tanzania. She likes climbing volcanoes, hiking, running marathons, and hanging out with her husband, who was on her most recent trip to Africa, and their three children.

Anna spends much of her time working in the field of social justice or pursuing peace issues. She is a strong advocate for people “who seem to be invisible to much of the world.”

La Paz International Foundation | Mission and Vision

“To help people in impoverished areas of the world live the lives they want to live through peace education, peace journeys, social entrepreneurship and direct trade opportunities. The philosophy of La Paz International, Inc., is embedded in honoring the dignity of all people despite age, race, religion and cultural background.”

Daisy Mairura Q & A

Daisy Mairura

Daisy Mairura

What surprised you the most about Tanzania?
We take so much for granted in our lives. The people we met in Tanzania are impoverished, but they are so appreciative and so happy with what they have.

What was the most amazing part of your trip?
Everything was so amazing. I gained so much new knowledge. I really loved making connections with the women and their kids. It was something watching the children come home from school and start happily working with the masons on the kiln.

What would you tell someone who’s thinking about traveling to Africa?
Live in the moment. Just let the experience soak in.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What has been your toughest challenge in life?
Transitioning from high school to college.

What is your greatest accomplishment?
Being captain of my high school basketball team. I played center and was strong under the basket.

What person has influenced you the most in life?
My mom, Agnes.

Daisy Mairura | 21 Answers

  1. Favorite season: Fall because of the change of colors and nice weather
  2. Favorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, etc.): Mountains, waterfalls, rivers, animals (anything nature!!!!)
  3. Favorite sport or physical activity: Basketball
  4. Your national bird if you could have one: Peacock and flamingos! Love the colors!!
  5. Place you would most like to visit: Greece! Thailand to learn about the culture and for sure revisit Tanzania and make more connections.
  6. Favorite holiday: Christmas
  7. Your national mammal if you could have one: Giraffe because they are sooo graceful and their fur is sooo appealing.
  8. Favorite actor or actress: Taraji P Henson
  9. Favorite band or performing artist: Beyoncé, Nyashinski
  10. Your personal motto if you had to have one: “Live like no one else NOW to live like no one else in the FUTURE.”
  11. Coolest thing in the world: Different cultures and Nature!!
  12. Scariest thing in the world: Heights and snakes
  13. Favorite all-time TV show: Survivor, Take the Money and Run and The Amazing Race
  14. Favorite all-time movie: Wonder and Prayer Room
  15. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Provide aid to people in need around the world through my profession
  16. Most precious material possession: iPhone
  17. First thing you would buy if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: Give 10 percent to God or to those in need.
  18. Dream occupation: CRNA; run different businesses; have a family organization to help people in need around the world.
  19. Person you would most like to meet: Oprah Winfrey
  20. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Public speaking, business, connecting with different cultures
  21. Humankind’s greatest challenge: Being misinformed, poverty, peace

Tanzania gallery

Photos courtesy of Anna Verhoye

To learn more about Practical Nursing at DCTC, contact:

Brenda Arneson, RN, PHN, MSN
Director of Nursing
Nursing Assistant Program Coordinator

To learn more about speech and communication courses at DCTC, contact:

Anna Verhoye, PhD
Speech Communication Faculty