2018 Alumni Award Recipient

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Michael Stulman

Michael Stulman
Regional Marketing Manager, Africa
Catholic Relief Services
Senegal, Africa
Bluffton ‘08
Major: Sociology

Finding his calling

Cross-cultural experiences make a lasting impact on many
Bluffton students, but Michael Stulman’s has truly shaped
his life. As a sophomore, Stulman ’08 took part in a semesterlong,
cross-cultural experience to Uganda, Africa.
“There were a lot of things that influenced who I am and
what I’m doing today, and looking back on it, it’s kind of
unbelievable,” said Stulman. “[Dr. Lynda Nyce] played a really
significant role by always encouraging me to try new things
and explore my interests.”
Nyce, former director of cross-cultural programs at Bluffton,
helped him study abroad for not one semester but three by
introducing Stulman to a variety of opportunities and writing
recommendation letters.
“It was unusual for a sophomore to study abroad, but that
was my first experience traveling in Africa and overseas,” said
Stulman. “I was there just long enough to develop a curiosity
and to want to learn more.”
Stulman’s return stateside was short lived. After diligently
working through his academics and logistics with Nyce,
Stulman spent his senior year in Ghana and South Africa.
Stulman is the 2018 recipient of the Outstanding Young
Alumni Award, presented by Bluffton’s Alumni Association,
after nearly a decade of discovery, exploration and service in
Africa.
The Outstanding Young Alumni Award recognizes a recent
graduate who has distinguished himself or herself through
service to people, community or church, or who has made
significant contributions in his or her career. The recipient
must have graduated from Bluffton within the last 15 years.

Life in Senegal

Stulman began working with Catholic Relief Services in
2014, one year after he and his wife, Jeanne Elone, moved
to Senegal. They have three children: 4-year-old Hugo and
2-year-old twins Ben and Max.
Stulman is the Africa regional marketing manager at CRS
and travels across the continent acting as a photographer,
videographer, technical guru and journalist.

“My job is to be a storyteller,” said Stulman, “and to help
people in the U.S. connect with our work overseas and
understand what we’re doing.”
Stulman also collaborates with journalists who report for
“The Washington Post,” “NPR” and “The New York Times.”
Over the last four years, Stulman has taken approximately 40
different work trips to 24 different countries.
“I take about one trip a month,” said Stulman. “I visit [CRS]
projects, take pictures of the people we’re working with and
trying to support, I talk to them and write stories that I can
share with constituents in the U.S.”
Before moving to Africa, Stulman lived and worked in
Washington, D.C., at first with the advocacy agency Africa
Action and then with Grassroots Business Fund, a nonprofit
committed to social enterprises around the world.
Stulman hopes that he can continue to raise awareness about
what affects the people of Africa and influence how those in
the United States specifically understand Africa.
“I love my work,” said Stulman. “I’m very, very lucky to have
the job that I do. I feel like it’s really an honor to have this
opportunity where I can travel to places, some of which are
often really difficult to access, and meet people who have so
many different experiences.”

Campus connections

As a sociology major, Stulman tried to have as many
experiences as possible on campus as well. He was involved in
PEACE Club, International Connection (ICON) and other
groups that focused on peace, justice and social issues.
“At Bluffton, I really got a multicultural learning experience,
and each experience was completely different.”
What he may not have realized at the time was that one of
Bluffton’s enduring values, community, would become a big
part of his life.
“All lot of it is relationships,” said Stulman. “How you build
relationships with people is critical. And, I started thinking
about that at Bluffton where I was always immersing myself in
new student groups and study abroad experiences, and you have
to figure out how to adapt in a new environment very quickly.”

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