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MasterCard Foundation Scholars In Action: 42 Sites in 16 Countries for Internships and Research

Published: Thursday, 28 Jul 2016
Author: The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program
Department: Office of the Dean

Between May to August 2016, 36 Scholars (12 graduate and 34 undergraduates) from The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at Michigan State University (MSU) are undertaking research and internships. The Scholars' internships are taking place at 42 sites in 16 different countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Scholars from 27 majors have joined corporations, organizations, and programs that contribute directly to solving today's key problems in areas such as global health, environment and energy, access to education, and food security. While traditionally undergraduate Scholars undertake their internships after their sophomore year, 2016 marks the first time that both rising freshman and  juniors have returned to Africa to explore internship opportunities. Graduate Scholars participate in research and internship during the summer between their two academic years.

In addition to their work and/ or research, Scholars are required to incorporate community service and entrepreneurship elements into their internship experience. Scholars are mentoring future MasterCard Foundation Scholars in their home countries, visiting their former schools and conducting local service projects similar to those they have been a part of at MSU. The Scholars produce a social or business entrepreneurship idea at the conclusion of their internship where they explore their community's pressing issues and provide a formal assessment that recommends a venture that would address these needs.


Of the 36 Scholars, eight are participating in internships directly related to GLOBAL HEALTH. Claire Gapare (junior - neuroscience) of Zimbabwe is participating in a research project involving methods of objectively quantifying brain swelling in children with cerebral malaria at the Malaria Alert Centre in Malawi. Her experience at the Malaria Alert Centre is particularly notable not only for the content of her research, but also because she is interning alongside her colleague Wambali Nkhwazi (junior - biomedical laboratory science) as well as two MasterCard Foundation Scholars alumni: Jimmy Vareta completed his master's degree in biomedical laboratory diagnostics in 2015 and Veronica Uzalili completed her master's degree in entomology in 2014. The impact that the MSU MasterCard Foundation Scholars are having is apparent as the alumni mentor current Scholars back on the continent of Africa.

FOOD SECURITY is another major theme among internship placement: six of the Scholars are interning in organizations who focus on food security and improving livelihoods and health through agriculture. Edward Opoku (master's - agricultural, food, and resources economics) of Ghana is gaining firsthand experience addressing agricultural productivity problems by meeting with farmer-based groups and training them in recordkeeping to enable them to accurately determine the profitability of their farming activities.

Five scholars are participating in internships related to EDUCATION. Roselyn Kaihula from Tanzania (master's - social work) is assisting both the Tanzania Partnership Project (TPP) as well as United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Tanzania. For TPP, Roselyn is working to form girls' mentoring clubs with the goal of empowering them and fueling their interest in education. At UNICEF she is assisting with the development of curriculum and training teachers for an early childhood education pilot study.

There are 7 scholars with internships in the field of ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY.  Joyce Nakyazze (Master's, environmental engineering) from Uganda is taking wastewater samples in order to trap viruses for analysis so that the results may be used as community health indicators that could predict waterborne disease outbreaks earlier.

In addition to the four themes highlighted above, there are Scholars participating in research or internships related to criminal justice, construction management, family and human development studies, communications (public relations, media and information systems), and business (actuarial science, economics).

The required internship experience for The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program is one piece of the comprehensive career education program component which also includes six workshops each semester tailored to each cohort's unique needs. To ensure successful internships, The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at MSU assists Scholars with pre-departure goal setting, reverse cultural shock preparation and support with finances and U.S. visa renewals. Once Scholars return to the U.S. they have the opportunity to provide their Final Reflections at a public forum. Staff also collect performance reviews from site supervisors. Previous feedback has found 100 percent of internship or research sites stating they would like to work with a MasterCard Foundation Scholar again in the future.


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