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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Abigael Metto Cohort: 2013
Country: Kenya
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Neuroscience
College: College of Natural Science

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Biography: Abigael is an undergraduate from Kenya majoring in Neuroscience. She plans to get into medical school and specialize in radiology. She hopes to study hard and eventually return to Africa, where she is positive that she will bring change. Additionally, she hopes to be part of the professional group working toward achieving the Kenya Vision 2030, with the goal of transforming Kenya into a newly industrialized, middle-income country.

Chiwimbo Gwenambira Cohort: 2013
Country: Zimbabwe
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Crop and Soil Sciences
College: College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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Biography: Chiwimbo graduated in 2014 with a Master's in Crop and Soil Sciences and is currently pursuing her PhD in the same discpline at MSU.

Rosette Nakalema Cohort: 2013
Country: Uganda
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Food Science
College: College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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Biography: Rosette completed her Master's in food science and technology in 2015 and is on her way to becoming a senior researcher focusing on food science and nutrition. She says that 80 percent of the population of Uganda is ignorant about food science, and the food processing industry there is under-developed. Nakalema says, "This expertise will allow me to enhance the nutritional value of staples, which, in turn, will help address malnutrition, hunger, and poverty among many people in Uganda." Within the next decade, she'd like to pursue a Ph.D. degree and teach at her former university—Makerere University in Uganda. "Studying at a first-rate world university—Michigan State University—has always been my dream. I am more than delighted to have been awarded this scholarship; it is a great opportunity for me and a stepping stone to my future career goals. Long live MasterCard!"

Veronica Uzalili Cohort: 2013
Country: Malawi
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Entomology
College: College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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Biography: Veronica is a completed her Master's in Entomology in 2015. She says her country is facing many challenges—namely disease, hunger, and a high illiteracy level. After receiving her master's degree, she intends to return to her home country and work in vector-borne disease research. After about three years, she plans to pursue her Ph.D. and then establish an entomological research laboratory. The end goal is for a healthy Malawi, which will enable people to participate in development projects. Upon her return to Africa, she will advocate for girls' education, since the school dropout rate is high. She believes that with mentoring and encouragement to work hard in class, it is possible to get out of poverty. Her long-term goal is to become a professor of entomology to help shape future scientists. The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program provides the support for her dream of "seeing a better Africa."

David Makacha Cohort: 2014
Country: Zimbabwe
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Public Relations
College: College of Communication Arts and Sciences

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Biography: David completed his Master’s in Public Relations in 2015. He says he comes from a background that has motivated him to work hard to change things around him. The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program is enabled him to pursue a degree in public relations, something that is not offered in his country. After completing his master's degree he hopes to work as a lecturer or in non-governmental/humanitarian agencies as a public relations officer or as a development office communicator. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. and establish a small public relations consulting firm in order to create employment opportunities. He lives by the saying: To be born poor is not an option, but to die poor—that's an option.

Buhle Mndzebele Cohort: 2014
Country: Swaziland
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Finance
College: College of Business

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Biography: Buhle received his bachelor's of Finance from the Broad College of Business in 2016. He grew up in poverty, with his mother raising several children on a very small salary. "I had to study hard and excel in school in the hope that I‘d have a brighter future, to help change things at home—and in my country at large," he says. He has been involved with a youth club project at orphaned children's soup kitchens in his hometown of Bhanga—planting gardens, distributing food, and motivating students so they will do better in school and in life. The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program has allowed him to pursue his degree and return to his home country to use his skills to help improve the economy through the application of proper financial techniques. "The problem with our nation and continent is not the lack of money, but it is that the little money we do have is not well managed or invested," says Mndzebele. His goal is to apply his economic knowledge to solve problems in education, health, and finance in his county and become a successful businessman so he can use his companies to further eradicate the problem of poverty among Africans by providing jobs and financial assistance.

Nadege Sesonga Cohort: 2013
Country: Rwanda
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Nursing
College: College of Nursing

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Biography: Nadege is an undergraduate studying nursing. She dreams of working in public health sectors especially the underdeveloped areas of Rwanda to improve maternal and child health. All of the activities she was involved with in high school—including teaching illiterate adults in her hometown village—have helped her develop leadership skills. The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program is providing Nadege with the education necessary for her to reach her goal of becoming a family nurse practitioner. During the summer of 2015 she interned with the Human Development Initiative in Rwanda where she worked on projects to promote health in rural areas.

Joseph Thompson Cohort: 2013
Country: Nigeria
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Chemical Engineering
College: College of Engineering

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Biography: Joseph is an undergraduate from Nigeria majoring in chemical engineering. His goal is to learn about better methods of producing fertilizers geared toward the needs of rural farmers in Nigeria, and how to design useful processes for converting animal waste into useful biofuels to generate renewable energy. His degree will equip him with the knowledge required to address complex societal issues such as global warming and gas flaring. Upon completion of his degree, he will return to his home country. Thompson says,"I envision myself working with other experts to engender a rapid development and help solve societal problems." He would also like to set up a foundation to assist economically disadvantaged students in reaching the "zenith of their proposed career choices."

Panashe Mayangamutse Cohort: 2015
Country: Zimbabwe
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Electrical Engineering
College: College of Engineering

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Biography: Panashe (Mponyana) is an undergraduate student majoring in electrical engineering. Before she came to MSU, Panashe co-funded student clubs, volunteered as a tutor, and helped create sustainable community projects for youth in her community. Panashe hopes to bridge the communication technology gap between Africa and the rest of the world by forging partnerships with large telecommunication companies around the world to create effective yet affordable communication systems for the people in Africa. In addition to communication and information systems, Panashe actively participates in volunteer work to improve lives of children, a pursuit she plans to continue in Zimbabwe.

Arnold Mutayoba Cohort: 2013
Country: Tanzania
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Computer Science
College: College of Engineering

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Biography: Arnold is a Scholar from Tanzania pursuing a bachelor's degree in computer science. His passion is to help his home country further develop its information technology system. This Mastercard Foundation Scholar believes that Tanzania has the potential to grow exponentially—both economically and socially—due to vast economic development, including the mining of gas and oil along the Mtwara region coast. "Being a Tanzanian who is a patriot, I intend to return home to facilitate the technological transformation, which will eventually rise due to the advancement in the economy," says Mutayoba. Applying his telecommunication and computer engineering skills, his goal is to "increase the use of computing in the market system to develop reliable information that can be easily reached by a touch on a phone or through broadcasts, as I see here in the United States," Mutayoba adds. As he learns, he says he is continually evaluating what he will be able to accomplish once he earns his degree.

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