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.

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."

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!"

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 is an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Biology and minors in Global Public Health and Epidemiology and 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 will be exciting and challenging for her, offering her the opportunity to pursue an investigative-oriented approach to science.

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

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Biography: Heather Kerubo is an undergraduate student majoring in Nursing, 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.

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

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Biography: Blessing is an undergraduate from Zimbabwe studying 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 plans to return to his county 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.

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."

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

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Biography: Mukangwa is an undergraduate from Zambia majoring in Actuarial Science.

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."

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.

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