International Studies & Programs

The Scholars

Every year, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars program welcomes new undergraduates and graduates from sub-Saharan Africa to Michigan State University's campus. These Scholars have demonstrated academic talent and have a personal commitment to give back to their countries.

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Sharon Onyango Cohort: 2013
Country: Kenya
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Chemical Engineering
College: College of Engineering

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Biography: Sharon is an undergraduate studying chemical engineering. She believes that the MasterCard Foundation Scholarship is her breakthrough—and that of many Africans. "I am indeed very grateful." She says she has conquered her inhibitions, which had been limiting her view on what is possible. She has been involved the Zawadi Africa Education Fund—whose main goal is to empower young women from disadvantaged backgrounds in Kenya through education. While the numbers of unskilled and semi-skilled human resources in her country are huge and readily available, Kenya lacks technical manpower. Onyango says, "My dream is to be part of the job creation process in Kenya within the next decade. My chemical engineering degree will enable me to be on the forefront of technical expertise as well as contribute to the business management aspect."

Timothy Ikime Cohort: 2013
Country: Kenya
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Zoology
College: College of Natural Science

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Biography: Timothy of Kenya graduated in 2015 with a Master's in Zoology. He intends to safeguard the diverse wildlife resources in his country, which are currently under threat due to poaching, biodiversity loss, and habitat destruction. He wishes to ensure that these resources are conserved for the current and future generations. Having completed his undergraduate studies in wildlife management and seeing many of the flora and fauna species become more threatened day to day, Ikime is looking forward to working with other academicians and leaders to ensure that the threats are minimized, if not eradicated. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in related fields and possibly teach in the area of natural resource management at a university. His life goals are to help the needy in society receive education, encourage young scholars to pursue careers in flora and fauna conservation, and generally fight illiteracy in Kenya.

Victor Jayeola Cohort: 2012
Country: Nigeria
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Food Science
College: College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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Biography: Victor is from Nigeria where he obtained his bachelor’s degree. He is graduated with a Master’s Degree in Food Science & Human Nutrition in 2014. Victor has a passion for independent research in the area of food harvesting, marketing, and food safety. When asked about his future aspirations, Victor explains, “My desire to contribute towards scientific research on food safety in Nigeria has coupled with my innate proclivity for teaching, and this has spurred a desire in me to pursue a professional career in teaching and research.”

Rebecca Nassimbwa Cohort: 2012
Country: Uganda
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Rehabilitation Counseling
College: College of Education

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Biography: Rebecca is from Uganda where she obtained her undergraduate degree at Makerere University. She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the College of Education in 2014. Rebecca returned to Uganda and is using her skills and knowledge to develop communities by helping some of the most disadvantaged. She is working to empower and sensitize people about the importance of treating others equally regardless of their disabilities, background, or health condition. She also hopes to advocate for reforms to the education system that will positively impact learners with disabilities. Through its emphasis on service to others, The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program has helped Rebecca sharpen her vision “to facilitate the rejuvenation of hope, determination, and the acquisition of skills in order to achieve better standards of living for all.”

Mavis Dome Cohort: 2012
Country: Ghana
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Public Policy
College: College of Social Science

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Biography: Mavis is from Gara-Tongo Ghana, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University for Development Studies. She graduated from MSU with a Master’s Degree in Public Policy & Political Science from the College of Social Science in 2014. She believes that The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program has given her a platform to contribute to the development of communities and to serve as a role model to other African youth faced with obstacles to education. Mavis returned to Ghana in 2013 to join the Centre for Democractic Development, an Afrobarometer affiliate.

Thelma Namonje Cohort: 2012
Country: Zambia
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics
College: College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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Biography: Thelma is from Zambia where she obtained her bachelor’s degree. She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Agricultural, Food & Resource Economics in 2014. Thelma believes that The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program has enhanced her motivation to give back to Africa in the role of an agro-economist who can forecast future trends and make sound recommendations based on the application of economic theory and knowledge. Thelma has been working with MSU partner, Alliance for Commodity Trade (ACTESA) in Eastern and Southern Africa for several years and wishes to continue to make her contributions through this organization for the development of Zambia. Thelma returned to Zambia in the summer of 2014 to join the Indaba Agricultural Policy Institute in Lusaka Zambia.

Stella Nhanala Cohort: 2012
Country: Mozambique
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Plant Breeding, Genetics, & Biotechnology
College: College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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Biography: Stella is from Mozambique where she obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Algarve. She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Plant Breeding, Genetics & Biotechnology. She has followed her passion for biosafety and genetic engineering by being involved in a project of the African Union New Partnerships for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) called the African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE). Stella wishes to be a role model for girls in her country and to give back by “creating a revolution in Mozambican agriculture through the use of methods and approaches used in biotechnology.” Stella realizes that challenging oneself is key to personal development and to influencing others in positive, lasting, and meaningful ways. She believes in one of Nelson Mandela’s maxims: ‘until I change myself, I cannot change others.’

Joseph Ajao Cohort: 2013
Country: Nigeria
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Business Administration
College: College of Business

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Biography: Joseph is from Nigeria and received his MBA from Michigan State University (MSU) in 2015. Prior to coming to MSU, he worked at Rocket Internet, a technology incubator; he says Rocket's drive to create opportunities for Nigerian entrepreneurs inspired him to pursue an advanced degree at a top business school. His dream is to create opportunities for new and early-stage technology companies in his home country. He hopes to launch a $100 million venture capital fund within six years and invest in companies that could potentially generate at least 100 new jobs annually.

Barbara Kotei Cohort: 2012
Country: Ghana
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Economics
College: College of Social Science

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Biography: Barbara completed her program in Economics in 2016. Barbara wants to give back to her community by working in the public health sector in Africa. She sees a need for loopholes and gaps to be filled in the health system, and she would like to bring her ideas to the table.

Mohamadou Diatta Cohort: 2012
Country: Senegal
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Computer Engineering
College: College of Engineering

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Biography: Mohamadou, graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor's in Computer Engineering. He has been cultivating the idea of giving back to his community and believes that he can make an impact when he goes back to Africa. He said, "Being chosen as a MasterCard Foundation Scholar puts me on the path to create the next Silicon Valley somewhere in Africa."

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