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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Kevin Affoukou Cohort: 2016
Country: Benin
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics
College: College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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Biography: Kevin (Thierry) Affoukou is a graduate student majoring in agricultural economics with emphasize in agribusiness management. Over the last 6 years, he held a position as Assistant researcher where he participated in implementing several regional projects, coordinate consultations for many companies like Root Capital and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and contributed publishing papers addressed issues relating to innovation and gender in food security. Kevin is interested to deeply understand how agribusiness plants add value on raw agricultural products and how theses activities impact employers especially women in terms of decision power in household, access to health services, improvement of children education and social status .

Nicolas Umuhizi Cohort: 2016
Country: Rwanda
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: MBA
College: College of Business

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Biography: Nicolas Umuhizi Nsabimana is pursuing a Master’s degree in Business Administration at Michigan State University (MSU) and holds a Bachelor's degree in Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness from The National University of Rwanda. Before joining MSU, Nicolas has worked on various development projects in Rwanda. This work has included helping seed growers to improve their business, raising awareness of the importance of nutrition, implementing income generating projects for subsistence families and most recently promoting social entrepreneurship amongst smallholder farmers. Nicolas is pro social justice and he sees entrepreneurship as a major component of sustainable development. During his spare time, he enjoys playing Underwater Hockey and soccer, hiking and traveling.

Kiflom Weldetnsae Cohort: 2016
Country: Eritrea
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Horticulture
College: College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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Biography: Kiflom is a graduate student majoring in Nematology.He completed his undergraduate degree in Horticultural Sciences, in Hamelmalo Agricultural College (HAC). After his graduation in 2008, he was hired in HAC, Department of Horticulture , as a Graduate Assistant (GA). While he was working in HAC, he played a major role in introduction of potato, garlic, sweet potato and carrot in the lowlands of the country, and that way he helped the farmers to widen their choices of the vegetables they grow. He also established the college's green house and shade house. In addition to these Kiflom designed and established the college's landscape. Now, he is in the process of gaining of knowledge and skills which will help him to contribute his part in improving Agriculture in Africa in general.

Trhas Weldezghi Cohort: 2016
Country: Eritrea
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Agriculture, Food, and Resource Economics
College: College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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Biography: Trhas is a graduate student at MSU, majoring in Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics. After completing her undergraduate studies, she worked as a Graduate Assistant in an agricultural college, located in rural areas of her country and with an invaluable opportunity to explore and assess the problems and difficulties of the rural communities. The graduate study in Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics will definitely be an impetus to address the pressing challenging of today’s world: food insecurity, Poverty, natural resource degradation. Trhas hopes to play a big role towards solving pressing problems in the agricultural sector and transforming it to modern and sustainable one.

Susanna Maingi Cohort: 2016
Country: Kenya
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Fisheries & Wildlife
College: College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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Biography: Susan-Rose Njambi, (Susanna) is a masters student studying Fisheries and wildlife. She is passionate leader for wildlife and the environment, has worked with several top wildlife conservation NGOs in various parts of Kenya and is a global ambassador for endangered flora and fauna, particularly those in Africa. By working with wildlife advocacy campaigns she provides social education and public awareness via community-based and online outreach formats. She also coordinates Wildlife Warriors Kenya, a youth volunteer program for wildlife conservation events, tourism, and outdoor expeditions.Susanna strives to help Africa better protect, preserve, and sustainably manage its wildlife, environment, and natural resources for future generations. Her research interests with the RECaP Laboratory at MSU revolve around human-carnivore conflict,trans-boundary wildlife management, and the empowerment of emerging African scientists to tackle challenges in conservation and sustainable development. "I am most grateful to the MasterCard Foundation for giving me the chance to grow into the change-maker I am destined to be!"

Luyando Katenda Cohort: 2016
Country: Zambia
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: James Madison College
College: James Madison College

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Biography: Luyando Mutale Katenda is an undergraduate student pursuing a James Madison major. Before coming to MSU Luyando strongly explored his passions of sustainable development and governance. He has worked as a UNICEF child and climate ambassador that has taken part in training Zambian young people as climate ambassadors, raising advocacy around climate change and planting trees. He has also established several environmental clubs in his locality. He was also part of the African Leadership Academy’s Model African Union as Committee chair. Model African Union as committee chair thus advancing his critical thinking and leadership skills. Luyando hopes to be part of the agenda for the involvement of youth in politics and decision making by creating capacity building mechanisms which will consequently avert the tarnished name of politics as a dirty game. Besides this, Luyando is also co-founder of Agents of change foundation Zambia an institution that equips young people in discussing climate change and HIV prevention using radio.

Benjamin Eshiwani Cohort: 2016
Country: Kenya
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Economics
College: College of Social Science

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Biography: Benjamin Eshiwani is an undergraduate student majoring in Economics. Before coming to MSU, Eshiwani founded The IntelliYouth Initiative in Kenya which focuses on mentoring and offering civic education mainly to the youth in informal settlement. He was also a mentor under Equity Group Foundation. Eshiwani has experience in banking, he interned with Equity Bank (Kenya) as a relationship officer for one year. Eshiwani is also an actor and stage performer. He has received several accolades and in 2014 he was nominated as the best actor in Kisumu county, Kenya. He has presented a testimonial solo verse before President Bill Clinton in 2015 during the Equity Annual Congress. Eshiwani aspires to work with World Bank where he believes he will be effective in transforming the economy of Africa through creating favorable policies, supporting innovation and creating employment opportunities to people in Africa. Eshiwani also has dreams of venturing into Kenyan politics to satisfy his quest for justified and democratic leadership. Currently he serves as a volunteer tutor in English to students who are learning English as their second language at Mount Hope United Methodist Church, Class of 2020 representative to the MSU Student government where he voices the unique concerns of members of his class and finally, the treasurer for Kenyans In Lansing Association.

Ritah Nabaggala Cohort: 2016
Country: Uganda
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Neuroscience
College: College of Natural Science

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Biography: Ritah Nabaggala is an undergraduate student majoring in neuroscience. Prior to her arrival at MSU, Ritah volunteered at The AIDS Support organization hospital where she participated in various campaigns to raise awareness about mental health. Ritah hopes to create an ambience in Uganda where mental Health disorders are recognized and those suffering are supported in a well-deserved and holistic manner. She believes that with the professional expertise she will acquire from MSU, she will be able to combat the issue of stigmatization of mental illness in her country.

Rebecca Guei Cohort: 2016
Country: Cote d'Ivoire
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Psychology
College: College of Education

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Biography: Rebecca is an undergraduate student majoring in Psychology. Before she came to MSU, Rebecca founded a student-managed library in Abidjan, volunteered as an assistant high school teacher, led student clubs, interned in the African Leadership Academy’s admissions office as well as a translation bureau in Abidjan. Rebecca’s vision for Africa focuses on mental health. She hopes to contribute to the African society by providing parents with adequate knowledge and effective tools to raise emotionally, psychologically and socially healthy offspring in stable homes.

Josué Kpodo Cohort: 2016
Country: Togo
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Computer Science
College: College of Engineering

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Biography: Josué Kpodo is an undergraduate student from Togo, majoring in Computer Science. Before attending MSU, Josue got selected for the U.S. Embassy’s Opportunity Funds, a program for brilliant and economically disadvantage students. Josue’s performance keep on improving in this program through tutoring and mentoring local students to prepare for the SAT/TOEFL tests, helping them to apply and fight for admission in U.S. institutions. After graduation, Josue plans to create a program in coordination with nongovernmental agencies to provide insightful disadvantaged students, especially talented young female students, with necessary academic and employment materials. This program will also work to promote English learning, and Technology. Contributing to his country work force by training and employing local staff members, he hopes to further expand Africa’s telecommunications sector and make Togo one of the most advanced technological African states in the region. He says that the MasterCard Foundation program has definitely enlightened him to make his goals towards gender equity, education advancement in his community a reality.

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