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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Heather Kerubo Cohort: 2013
Country: Kenya
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Nursing
College: College of Nursing

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Biography: Heather Kerubo graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2017. She says the Zawadi Africa Education Fund is the most inspiring project she has ever come across. The founder, Dr. Susan Mboya, encourages students from poor backgrounds to "chase their dreams." Kerubo comes from an area where many people cannot acquire even basic needs. She hopes to develop projects that will help people come out of poverty or at least live above the poverty line. She plans to help more children have access to education. In addition, she wants to guide other students who may be interested in doing the same. The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program will make it possible for her to "chase her dream" of becoming someone who will help other people have access to the opportunities she almost missed, but was able to acquire through the empathy of others.

Simbarashe Chidyagwai Cohort: 2013
Country: Zimbabwe
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Mechanical Engineering
College: College of Engineering

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Biography: Simba graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2017. He has an interest in bio-mechanics and how engineering can be used to facilitate better health care delivery, particularly in developing countries in Africa. He also has a strong interest in the career development of young people, a passion he uses in his role as a career adviser in the Center for Spartan Engineering.

Vincent Karenzi Cohort: 2013
Country: Rwanda
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Agribusiness Management
College: College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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Biography: Vincent graduated from Michigan State University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness management and environmental studies. He is inspired by Maj. General Fred Gisa Rwigema, who started a liberation war in October 1990 and stopped the 1994 genocide against Tutsis. Karenzi has recognized the economic injustice that a high percentage of his country's people are facing. In Rwanda, 85 percent of the population depends on farming, but their hard work doesn't always lead to the expected benefits. Karenzi says, "I envision my future working with farmers in the villages of East African countries, especially in Rwanda." His dream is to solve the economic injustice being done to agriculturists in the deep villages of Africa. The MasterCard Foundation Scholarship Program will provide the platform for him to be that "change agent."

Hailu Abreha Cohort: 2013
Country: Ethiopia
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Biomedical Laboratory
College: College of Human Medicine

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Biography: Hailu graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical laboratory science in 2017. After receiving his degree, he hoped to return to his home country of Ethipoia to help in the fight against rampant diseases. For three years, he was a member of an anti-HIV organization in his country that went from place to place teaching about HIV/AIDS. During that time, he realized that a knowledge gap can greatly affect society. This, coupled with the fact that there is a severe shortage of skilled workers in the field of medicine in his country—particularly in the biomedical field—spurred him on to earn a degree that would enable him to help his community. His interest is in biomedical engineering, and his long-term goal is to work as a research scientist.

Jalang Conteh Cohort: 2013
Country: The Gambia
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Human Biology
College: College of Natural Science

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Biography: Jalang Conteh graduated from Michigan State University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in human biology, with minors in global public health and epidemiology, as well as women and gender studies. Growing up in a culture with many harmful traditional practices detrimental to the health of women, Jalang is passionate about the reproductive health of women and aims to pursue a degree in Human Medicine. Before coming to the US, she had volunteered at two hospitals and was also involved in a wide range of community service mostly geared towards women and girl children. She says her studies at MSU were exciting and challenging for her, offering her the opportunity to pursue an investigative-oriented approach to science.

John Tengatenga Cohort: 2013
Country: Malawi
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: James Madison
College: James Madison College

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Biography: John graduated from Michigan State University in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in international relations from James Madison College. Working with the David Peace Project, which is aimed at promoting peaceful coexistence of people, has had a major influence on his career choice. Tengatenga says, "I want to become a diplomat or policy analyst and help my country by promoting good relationships with other countries." The MasterCard Foundation Scholarship will enable him to pursue his studies and learn about world politics and economics, as well as how large organizations—such as the United Nations—work.

Beatrice Kemboi Cohort: 2013
Country: Kenya
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Actuarial Science
College: College of Social Science

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Biography: Beatrice is a Scholar from Kenya majoring in actuarial science. She hopes to use her career to transform her country economically and socially by eradicating disease, poverty, and ignorance. She says, "My dream is that Kenya will one day be a first-world country." With the help of the MasterCard Foundation Scholarship, she is determined to work toward accomplishing that dream.

Jimmy Mkude Cohort: 2013
Country: Tanzania
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Computer Science
College: College of Engineering

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Biography: Jimmy graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor's degree in computer science in 2017. His biggest dream is to become president of the United Republic of Tanzania, so that he can "enforce honesty, integrity, and commitment."

Mukangwa Masamba Cohort: 2013
Country: Zambia
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Mathematics
College: College of Natural Science

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Biography: Mukangwa is a Scholar from Zambia pursuing a bachelor's degree in mathematics.

Blessing Tayisepi Cohort: 2013
Country: Zimbabwe
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Civil Engineering
College: College of Engineering

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Biography: Blessing graduated from Michigan State University in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. He says he has been deeply inspired by Thomas Alva Edison because "he pursued his dreams in order to achieve." Tayisepi says he pursued the Mastercard Foundation Scholarship in spite of others telling him it would be difficult to achieve. After receiving his degree, he planned to return to his country to assist in the construction industry. He has always had a passion for engineering, and as he grew up, he began to realize that his country's infrastructure was aging, but no one seemed to be paying attention to it. His dream is to "engineer success," and become a world-renowned engineer who will "change the landscapes of many countries in the world for the better." He hopes to aid socially and economically downtrodden people, to help them see that there is life beyond the veil of poverty and depression.

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