40 Years: 1980 - 2020

SOWF Grad, Ella Downs, Working to Fight Modern Slavery

Can Umantad Falls Candijay, Bohol
Photo Credit: Louella Downs

Louella (Ella) Downs graduated in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in International and Global Studies from the University of Central.  Ella is the daughter of U.S. Air Force Major William Downs, who was KIA while assigned to AFSOC, AFSO Air Warfare Center, 6th SOS, Operation Iraqi Freedom, on May 30, 2005.  

During her Spring 2017 semester, Ella participated in SOWF-funded a study abroad opportunity in Toulouse, France, studying Business and Culture.  This experience fueled her interest in international culture and travel. As she continued her educationElla continued to pursue her passion for the global community, which resulted in receiving an internship opportunity through the University of Central Florida with the International Justice Mission (IJM).   

From Ella: 

"My internship is with International Justice Mission (IJM): the largest organization fighting modern slavery.  Violence against the poor is rampant across the globe, and IJM's ambition is to end impunity to protect so many people.  The casework of IJM's Philippines offices is the online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) - a massive issue in this country.  The problem is international in nature, as it entails a two-fold perpetration, including local traffickers and online sex-offenders.  The latter of these two is most often based in a western country, so the international nature of the crime adds to its' complexity and the difficulty to solve it.  This internship means a great deal to me because it allows me to be a small cog in a large machine doing, in my opinion, some of the most important work of our day.

Being assigned to the Philippines carried a specific impact for me because my dad had done a lot of work here while he was serving in the Air Force.  He loved the people here, and I was always interested to hear his stories when he came home to us.  My dad taught me to fight for justice, particularly for vulnerable peoples, and that's exactly the opportunity I have with IJM.  Advocating for rights of people around the world was the reason I chose my degree (International and Global Studies, minor Diplomacy).  Putting my studies into use is all I could have hoped it to be.  In my position, I have the chance to work alongside Filipino law enforcement, government, and the private sector to end this heinous crime.  I feel equipped to live and work in a foreign culture because of my studies and experiences that SOWF supported.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: without SOWF, achieving my goals would have been put on the back burner at best, and unattainable at worst.  My gratitude for your support throughout my education, and now in the professional world, is inexplicable. "


Back to News
SOWF has been there since day one of my bachelor's degree.

They have always made sure I got what I needed for my living expenses as well as my semester expenses. They not only have given me financial stability when I needed it the most, but also moral and emotional support. If it wasn’t for SOWF I wouldn’t be the professional teacher that I am today. For every success that I made and continue to make in my life, SOWF will be there at the top of the list for all of the thanks and recognition that they deserve for helping me carve my future.

Steven Schmauss Read More
SOWF provided me with the opportunity to be more engaged

in my studies rather than worrying about jobs and extracurricular work to pay for schooling. In addition, I was able to invest my time in leadership positions which have taught me so much as a person.

Ryan Soltes Read More
I cannot begin to express my gratitude,

knowing throughout the college admissions process, that the financial burden of college was no longer on our family. I am forever thankful for all the incredible things SOWF does for military personnel and their families. I am proud to be attending my dream school, the University of Chicago, because of all the Foundation does to honor those who have given their lives. 

Forrest Haydon Read More