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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Joyline Chepkorir Cohort: 2015
Country: Kenya
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Nursing
College: Nursing

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Biography: Joyline Chepkorir is an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a minor in Health Promotion at Michigan State University. Before her university studies, she volunteered in her hometown as a high school tutor and mentor. She is an alumna of the Education and Social Empowerment Program where she represented her cohort in visiting and caring for patients suffering from fistula at the Gynocare Fistula Center in Eldoret, Kenya. She hopes to apply her knowledge and skills in Nursing to tackle health issues in Kenya and other parts of Africa through research and nationwide awareness campaigns, especially for cancer. Her empathetic attitude towards terminally ill patients drives her passion to pursue Nursing and help in finding the cure for the fatal diseases.

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.

Nikkita Ngalande Cohort: 2015
Country: Zambia
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Actuarial Science
College: College of Natural Science

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Biography: Nikkita is an undergraduate scholar studying actuarial science. The second in a family of five, Nikkita has lived most of her life in Lusaka, Zambia. Before she came to MSU, Nikkita volunteered at 1000 Hearts Foundation, a non-governmental organization that aims to alleviate the plight of underprivileged children. She taught primary school children mathematics and science during the school holidays. Nikkita's goal is to return to Zambia and apply her financial risk knowledge to develop policies that will positively alter the Zambian economy. She also sees herself working with other MasterCard Foundation scholars to build a technology development hub in Africa, working with talented young entrepreneurs to impact underserved communities.

Esther Kilaja Cohort: 2015
Country: Tanzania
Level of Study: Undergraduate
Major: Supply Chain Management
College: College of Business

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Biography: Esther is a business major undergraduate student. In high school she worked hard and was awarded an international IB scholarship in a prestigious high school in Tanzania (IST). Esther is compassionate, strong willed and focused. She has worked in her mother's textile shop her entire life, which is where her love for business was nurtured. Encouraged by her father to study supply chain management, Esther plans to start her own business that will help young African scholars who are passionate and ambitious to take risks and prosper. Esther is inspired by her mother, who works hard every day to ensure her children are successful.

Walamatien Coulibaly Cohort: 2014
Country: Cote D'Ivoire
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: MBA/ Supply Chain Management
College: College of Business

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Biography: Walamatien received his Master's of Business Administration with an emphasis on Supply Chain Management. For eight years, he was a high school teacher in Cote D'Ivoire, and during this time he realized that one way to increase school participation is through school nutrition. A mismanagement of the national school-feeding program has motivated him to earn a degree that would enable him to help his country and he hopes to do that through the knowledge gained in his program at MSU.

Regis Nisengwe Cohort: 2014
Country: Rwanda
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Community Sustainability
College: College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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Biography: Regis received his Master's in Community Sustainbility. He has been conducting volunteer work related to the environment through youth organizations in Rwanda and in other parts of Africa. During that time, he was intrigued by how difficult it is to prioritize environmental protection in areas and communities where poverty is the main problem. Learning more about how to reconcile environmental protection and poverty reduction will enable him to take part in the promotion of community-based green development. Regis has returned to Rwanda and is currently employed with One Acre Fund to continue to pursue these areas and make contributions to his country.

Jimmy Vareta Cohort: 2014
Country: Malawi
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Biomedical Laboratory Science
College: College of Natural Science

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Biography: Jimmy received his Master's in Clinical Laboratory Sciences. Before attending Michigan State University, he was involved in HIV/AIDS and malaria research with reputable biomedical research organizations in Malawi. Through this experience, he realized his country needs more people with advanced skills in biomedical research. This prompted him to go back to school to acquire more knowledge and skills so that he can contribute to solving public health problems facing his country. Jimmy has returned to his home country of Malawi where he is helping in the fight against infectious diseases through biomedical research and teaching the next generation of biomedical scientists at the Malaria Alert Centre.

Roland Ofori Cohort: 2014
Country: Ghana
Level of Study: Graduate
Major: Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics
College: College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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Biography: Roland received his master's in agricultural, food and resource economics, with a specialization in environmental and resource economics. Prior to coming to MSU, he was working in the Energy, Oil, and Gas Unit at the Ministry of Finance in Accra. He believes that earning an advanced degree through The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program will equip him with advanced knowledge in resource economics, and the necessary skills he needs to contribute more meaningfully and effectively to the Ministry's efforts at prudently managing Ghana's petroleum revenues for accelerated growth. Ofori says, "Ghana's good example of the fine and judicious implementation of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act has given me evidence that African economies can avoid the dangers and plights associated with the mismanagement of natural resource revenues."

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.

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