Pitt Professor Kathleen Musante, Alumnus Kakenya Ntaiya Win Sheth International Awards

Issue Date: 
October 14, 2013

An accomplished professor and an inspiring University of Pittsburgh alumnus have been selected as winners of the 2013-2014 Sheth International Awards.

Kathleen Musante, director of Pitt’s Center for Latin American Studies and professor of anthropology with a secondary appointment in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences in the Graduate School of Public Health, has been awarded the Sheth Distinguished Faculty Award for International Achievement, established to recognize the contributions of a current Pitt faculty member to furthering international education.

Musante was selected for the award in recognition of her tireless work supporting study abroad programs for students as well as the scholarship of researchers across the world. As director of the Center for Latin American Studies, Musante transformed the University’s Pitt in Cuba program into a full-semester Spanish language-intensive program offering courses in Spanish and Cuban cinema, literature, and culture. Musante was also instrumental in founding Pitt in Ecuador, an eight-week summer program that immerses students in the Ecuadorian Amazon, offering hands-on exposure to the region’s biodiversity and the problems faced by its indigenous people.

She also spearheaded the development of Panoramas, a web-based academic resource available to scholars of Latin America and the Caribbean worldwide. As a scholar in her own right, Musante has conducted research on food security and gender inequality in rural communities throughout Latin America and the United States over the past 40 years, working with a broad range of international agencies and foundations.

“Panoramas is an example of a big-picture endeavor of Dr. Musante’s that fosters understanding of Latin America and its issues,” said Lawrence Feick, director of the University Center for International Studies. “She single-mindedly set about creating this pathbreaking online resource that not only is available to Pitt faculty and students, but also to academics across the country and around the world.”

Kakenya Ntaiya, a 2011 graduate of Pitt’s School of Education, has been awarded the Sheth International Young Alumni Achievement Award, which acknowledges a Pitt alumnus who has made contributions to the international community through professional achievement and societal impact. 

Ntaiya is recognized for her passionate advocacy for girls’ education in her home country of Kenya. Following her own education abroad, Ntaiya returned to Enoosaen, her home village, to establish the Kakenya Center for Excellence, a girls’ primary boarding school that offers education and opportunities to more than 150 girls.

Ntaiya’s work has been recognized broadly, beginning even before her graduation from Pitt. She was honored with a Vital Voices Global Leadership award in 2008 and as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2010. In 2011, Ntaiya was one of Newsweek’s “150 Women Who Shake the World.” This year, she has been honored with the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Global Women’s Right Award, and was recently named a top 10 CNN Hero of 2013.

“Kakenya Ntaiya has an amazing ability to dream big,” said Jagdish Sheth (BUS ’62G, ’66G), who, with his wife Madhuri, is the founder of the Sheth Family Foundation, whose gift helped create the Sheth International Awards.

The Sheth International Awards, founded in 2012 and administered by Pitt’s University Center for International Studies, are the result of a gift from Madhuri and Jagdish Sheth through the Sheth Family Foundation.