Imagine spending four years living in Africa and immersing yourself in an environment vastly different from home. For Anna Reed, it isn’t about the distance from home, but the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. Although she is far from the hills of Northwest Arkansas and the crowd of cheering Razorback fans in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Reed is pursuing a career that’s purpose is to help and guide the future of others, all while enriching her own.
As executive director of the Arkansas-based non-profit Bridge2Rwanda, the organization “promotes educational and economic development in the country of Rwanda,” she said. Founding the Bridge2Rwanda Scholars Program, Reed works with Rwandan students to compete and win scholarships to various universities throughout the U.S. and the world.
“I love working with these students and helping them to pursue great opportunities despite their challenging backgrounds,” she added.
Receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in communication disorders from the University of Arkansas in 2004, Reed opted to further her education by attending the University of South Carolina and pursuing a master’s degree in speech pathology. Working as a speech pathologist for three years at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, her career goals changed after a meeting with Dale Dawson, CEO of Bridge2Rwanda.
Moving to Rwanda in 2009, she has spent the last four years living and working in a country with a difficult past but promising future. “Rwanda suffered from a horrific genocide almost 20 years ago, so it is extremely rewarding to be able to play a part in rebuilding the country and investing in its future leaders,” she said.
Passionate about her career and the opportunity to make an impact on a global scale, Reed admits that although she is on the other side of the world, the thousands of miles separating her from Arkansas don’t seem so bad. As a life member of the Arkansas Alumni Association, the opportunities to stay connected and up to date on the latest University of Arkansas and alumni news, “it allows me to remain engaged…even from across the world.”
A third generation Razorback, Reed grew up appreciating the family tradition of attending the U of A, knowing that one day, she too, would have her name etched on Senior Walk. “My experience at the U of A was filled with opportunities to develop personally and to develop great leadership skills,” she said. Embracing those skills, she served as president of Kappa Kappa Gamma and was a member of Razorback Belles.
Thinking back on her time spent at the U of A, one memory stands out clearer than any other – being crowned Homecoming Queen by her late father, former U of A Board of Trustees Chairman, Stanley Reed. “It was such a great memory with my dad on the football field in front of thousands of people…a memory I will always cherish,” she said.