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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Chido Matsika Cohort: 2017
Country: Zimbabwe
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Pre-law and Psychology
College: College of Social Sciences

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Biography: Chido is an undergraduate from the small city of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, majoring in prelaw and psychology. After witnessing the rapid opening and closing of various local companies and businesses, she became deeply concerned about the business owners and their lack of success. After some research, Chido discovered that most business owners were not aware of the rules and laws of a successful business, and this inspired her to pursue Business Law. Her psychology degree will also play a major role in her future, as she has discovered that a number of children that have experienced traumatic events do not receive adequate counseling, which may lead them to live "troubled" lives. Chido's mission is to tackle the situation as early as possible, to improve the lives of youth so that they don't have to face troubling circumstances. Chido has been on a number of boards such as The Anti-Litter Campaign, which promotes cleanliness of the neighborhoods in her city. She has also carried out different campaigns that improve the lives of the less fortunate, such as her experience with ‘We Read’, an organization that donates books to the less privileged. Single mothers and orphans, particularly homeless orphans and children, lay close to her heart. Chido hopes to improve the condition of her hometown, which used to have the most factories and production in Zimbabwe. Her end goal is to make the world a better place, and she believes that it all begins with her work in her community, with a ripple effect spreading throughout Zimbabwe, and then Africa at large. Chido hopes to further her studies at the doctorate level, gaining experience and knowledge that she can implement in her home country. She would like to reopen some of the closed companies and businesses, and provide consultation to past, current, and potential new businesses.

Pius Mithika Cohort: 2017
Country: Kenya
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Electrical Engineering
College: College of Engineering

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Biography: Pius Kimathi, mostly known as Msaidizi (which means "helper" in Swahili), is an undergraduate Scholar majoring in finance. Msaidizi is the founder and director of Msaidizi Kenya Initiative, a mentorship and charity movement. He is a volunteer mentor for Wings to Fly Scholars at the Equity Group Foundation. Msaidizi is also a member and mentor for Equity Leaders Program, assisting scholars in applying for colleges abroad. He has interned at Equity Bank as a relationship officer, and also at Equity Group Foundation as a college counselor. He has been intensively involved in leadership both in school and beyond. Msaidizi has served in different posts in high school student leadership, including a deputy president post. In 2013, he received the Leadership Award from Equity Bank. He was also chosen for the MasterCard Foundation Community Leaders Fonference in Rwanda in 2015. He has worked as a Community Service Ambassador at the International Professional Counselors Centre. Msaidizi is also a volunteer trainer for the Therapeutic Community Model's Bridges of America at local drug recovery and rehabilitation centers. He serves as a motivational speaker/peer mentor in most Kenyan schools. His involvement in youth affairs and mentorship has earned him numerous interviews and airtime on his local TV and radio stations and print media.

Narindra Randriamiarintsoa Cohort: 2017
Country: Madagascar
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Agricultural Business and Management
College: College of Agricultural and Natural Resources

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Biography: Narindra is an undergraduate student majoring in agricultural business and management at MSU. The daughter of a farming family, Narindra has first-hand knowledge of the problems faced by farmers in Madagascar, including drought, decreased rainfall due to climate change, and the lack of education and resources. The idea of promoting development in her country has found a foothold in her mind and heart. She wants to combine leadership and her interest in agriculture to help her country achieve self-sufficiency in food in an efficient and environmentally friendly way. Intensive farming is popular in her home country, and though it provides high yield of crops, she thinks the damages to the environment are significant and must be considered when farming. Narindra plans to conduct research about new seeds of rice that will be adaptable to the tropical climate in her country. Before coming to MSU, Narindra was involved in a vast array of community engagement activities. She joined Aeropartage Madagascar, a nonprofit organization focusing on rural life prosperity in social domains, specifically in education and healthcare. She also maintained a club that worked to fight against illegal drugs in her community. She volunteered with GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Camp, organized by Peace Corps Madagascar, where she had the opportunity to give advice to Madagascar youth about how to succeed in their studies.

Aminatou Seydou Moumouni Cohort: 2017
Country: Niger
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: James Madison
College: James Madison College

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Biography: Aminatou is an undergraduate student majoring in international studies. She graduated from a high school in India where she studied in the international baccalaureate program. She is passionate about empowering women and believes that empowering herself is the first step. By studying international relations, she hopes to encourage gender equality in her home country of Niger. Aminatou understands that women have limited opportunities in Niger, and are believed to be inferior to men in all working areas. She wants to go beyond her comfort zone and challenge her community. After graduation, she aspires to become a woman leader and create her own non-governmental agencies in Niger in areas that are central to women’s progress. “No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself from the contribution of half of its citizens.” - Michelle Obama

Andala Yakubu Cohort: 2017
Country: Ghana
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Women and Gender Studies
College: College of Arts and Letters

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Biography: and community development. Andala believes in giving back to her community and has previously participated in community services, such as clean up campaigns. She joined the African Leadership Academy in 2015 to learn how to address challenging issues in her community and unearth her innovative leadership skills. 

Nyasha Mudukuti Cohort: 2017
Country: Zimbabwe
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology
College: College of Agricultural and Natural Resources

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Biography: Nyasha Mudukuti is a graduate student majoring in plant breeding, genetics and biotechnology at Michigan State University. She holds a BSc (Hons) in biotechnology from Chinhoyi University of Technology in Zimbabwe. Nyasha served as the 2016 AGCO Africa Ambassador, advocating for agricultural reforms across the African continent. She was selected to participate at the 2014 Borlaug-dialogue on “Drought and Disease Tolerant Crops on Food Security” at the 2014 World Food Prize, USA. She is a member of the Global Farmers Network, USA. Her dream is to help her continent see the importance of biotechnology in agriculture and use it to improve the livelihoods of African smallholder farmers. Nyasha is also dedicated to promoting gender issues, in particular girl-child education. She was shortlisted as a 2013 Moremi Initiative fellow, as one of the future young African female leaders. She also served as a Global Youth Ambassador with the U.N. initiative "A World At School", advocating for educational reforms. Nyasha is a proud fellow of the 2014 UNAOC-EF Summer School, advocating for youth participation in building a sustainable future at local levels. She was recognized as one of the 2015 Top 100 Brightest Young Minds in Africa by Barclays Africa, an initiative that empowers young, emerging leaders in Africa. She is also a proud fellow of the 2016 Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

Henok Bekele Cohort: 2017
Country: Ethiopia
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Civil Engineering
College: College of Engineering

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Biography: Henok is a graduate student from Ethiopia majoring in structural engineering. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Addis Ababa Institute of Technology at Addis Ababa University. Henok believes that education and research are the key factors to enhance sustainable development in Africa. As a result, after completing undergraduate study, Henok worked as Assistant Lecturer in Addis Ababa Institute of Technology and also participated in the design and construction of structures. Henok plans to do research on strengthening structures to overcome the catastrophic effects of earthquakes, which have become a prevalent global issue—especially near The Great Rift Valley of East Africa. He is confident that with the excellent education and research facilities at Michigan State University, he will contribute research findings to solve this problem that endangers millions of people in Africa and around the world. After graduation, he wants to create a safer way of life for Africans by actively participating in the design and construction of buildings, bridges and other important structures. Moreover, with the knowledge and experience he will gain at MSU, Henok hopes to continue doing research to contribute to the advancement of structural engineering, which ultimately ensures safety for society.

Don De Dieu Iradukunda Cohort: 2017
Country: Burundi
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Agricultural and Natural Resources
College: College of Agricultural and Natural Resources

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Biography: Don De Dieu is an undergraduate Scholar majoring in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He is the CEO and founder of BurAgri, a business that connects small farmers in local communities to potential loaners, providing agricultural information on how to improve small farmers’ agricultural methods to reach full production capacity. He believes the world is full of inequalities, where the extremely rich are not aware of the minority living in and consumed by extreme poverty, and that small actions of love and compassion toward the less privileged can positively impact the world.

Toheeb Otun Ajibola Cohort: 2017
Country: Nigeria
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Statistics
College: College of Natural Science

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Biography: Toheeb Otun Ajibola is a graduate Scholar pursuing a degree in statistics from the Department of Statistics and Probability at Michigan State University. Toheeb is from Nigeria, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Lagos. He has a passion for mathematics-related subjects, and is intrigued by the relevance of statistical analysis to effective decision making. He struggled to pursue his math-related interests during his undergraduate studies, as his university did not offer subjects necessary to obtain a degree he was interested in. During the course of his undergraduate studies, Toheed became particularly interested in statistics, as it was the only subject he took that enabled him to balance his passion for mathematics and his study of accounting. He also realized the indispensable nature of statistical analysis in a world where numerical data is everywhere, and the need to be an educated consumer of this data in order to make informed and more effective decisions.

Nyaradzo Baye Cohort: 2017
Country: Namibia
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Organization and Community Leadership
College: College of Social Sciences

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Biography: Nyaradzo is a graduate scholar from Namibia, pursuing a degree in social work with a focus on organization and community leadership . She holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Namibia. Prior to being a Mastercard Foundation Scholar, Nyaradzo was an active volunteer at an NGO called Family Strengthening Program, located within the informal settlements of Namibia. Nyaradzo feels that her greatest challenge is helping to improve the livelihoods of those living in developing nations. Her desire is to bring about change in Africa, in which all societies would have the same basic rights, protection, opportunities and social benefits. Nyaradzo believes that the effectiveness of a community is determined by the extent to which each individual takes responsibility of their own development, and contributes to the development of others. Therefore, her goal is to take the knowledge, experience, and skills she learns at MSU back to Namibia to make a difference and bring positive change.

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