Student helps bring education to another nation

Sac State sophomore founds humanitarian organization Koyendi, Inc.
By: Paul Cambra, Features Editor
-A +A

Sacramento State Wind Ensemble
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 10
Where: Capistrano Hall, CSUS, 6000 J St., Sacramento
Tickets: $10 general, $7 seniors, $5 students
Info: (916) 278-4323,

Serrena Carlucci does not take education for granted. From Skyridge to E.V. Cain to Placer High School (class of 2011) and currently a sophomore at Sacramento State University, she has taken full advantage of what the local school system offers. But after a trip to Nigeria in 2011, she gained a new perspective — and appreciation — of learning.
“I saw the difference in lifestyles between those offered the opportunity of an education verse those who weren’t. Witnessing the levels of poverty and sickness so elevated my education.”
There’s that word again. The following year, Carlucci, 20, founded Koyendi, Inc., which, according to their website, is a “humanitarian organization dedicated to providing safe, accessible, and conducive learning atmospheres for children around the world.”
They work in conjunction with the villages. They are not interested in giving handouts. Their projects are self sustaining and driven by the individuals in the community. In June they will break ground on a school in the Nigerian village of Ukya’u.
“This will be our first school,” she said. “I hope to physically be a part of building it, but only as much as they want me to. It’s their project, it’s their school, I am not going to take anything over.”
Carlucci’s first trip to Nigeria was with the nonprofit organization Village Care International. She saw firsthand the problems with sanitation, disease and a general lack of knowledge when it came to nutrition.
“One of the men in the village had previous training,” she said. “He thanked Village Care for the opportunity of education and said ‘My children don’t starve anymore, I know how to feed them now, give them proper nutrition.’”
In addition to drumming up support for Koyendi Inc., Carlucci is also an accomplished percussionist. She found her musical talent to be an asset when it comes to international relations.
“It was fantastic, I was the first white person they had ever seen and they were almost frightened of me,” she said. “There were drums sitting there and I asked a kid if he knew how to play. I started playing and they all came over. It’s a great way to integrate. You don’t seem so scary when you’re playing music.”
She ended up playing drums in almost every village she visited, in the process gaining appreciation for the indigenous music.
“All of Africa is very musical, they invite you to play,” she said. “It opened a great deal of musical tastes I had not previously experienced. They have a lot of soul in their music.”
They also have a terrorist organization in the country that is very against any western education at all, but they haven’t encountered any problems with them so far, and feel “very, very safe.”
This Wednesday, a concert by the Sacramento State Wind Ensemble will raise some funds for the organization. Trevor Hall, like Carlucci, is pursuing a music degree at Sac State. They both are members of the wind ensemble.
“Serrena and I are classmates,” Hall said. “She explained Koyendi Inc. to me and I felt I should get on board. I started working with her about two months ago.”
Hall, who lives in Grass Valley, helps spread the word about Koyendi Inc. while coming up with new ways to raise money. At age 16 he helped build a school in Mexico, so he has a little hands-on experience.
“I want to be an educator,” he said. “I always felt like that was who I am. People here take for granted what they have. You see kids dropping out left and right, ditching classes. The kids there really want to learn and they have fun with it. They kids want to go, get their mind off the violence in their country. They want to be productive.”
Next year, the group plans to travel to Uganda and Kenya.
“You can increase their opportunity to be employed later in life if they can attend primary school,” Carlucci said. “We’ve got volunteers all over the world. Around here, there are four of us. They agree that it’s a great and noble cause and they all work extremely hard.”
To learn more about Koyendi Inc., visit and