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INTERVIEW: Luyando Katenda Featured Among 100 Visionary Leaders

Published: Tuesday, 20 Dec 2016
Author: The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program
Department: Office of the Dean

One of The Michigan State University (MSU) MasterCard Foundation Scholars, Luyando Katenda, was recently featured in the magazine, Real Leaders, that is committed to providing a platform for young leaders to inspire others with their projects, visions, and inspiring contributions to the world. Luyando was featured in a section titled, 100 Visionary Leaders; Leading Us Toward a Better World, where he shared his vision to increase youth involvement in politics. Luyando, a Zambian with passion for governance and sustainable development, is pursuing his undergraduate degree in James Madison College, an MSU residential college that focuses on offers world-class public affairs and public policy programs. Prior to joining The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, he served as a UNICEF child climate ambassador, spoke at a TEDx talk in São Paulo, and cofounded the organization Agents of Change Foundation Zambia. Luyando was able to shed some light on what it means to be a Real Leader, his plans for contributing to Africa, his organization, and advice for his fellow Scholars.

Q: How did the magazine find you for their feature?
A: I was approached by one of the Real Leaders writers who is also a young leader that I knew from working as a UNICEF climate ambassador.

Q: What do you think about being featured?
A: I initially almost turned down the offer in the name of playing a low profile as I also thought it might not have been the ideal time to do so. However, I eventually agreed to do so as to play my small part in telling a story that one is never too young or too old to be a change maker. My parents, who have been pivotal to my growth as a young leader, often told me to "stay focused till I become a focus" and this is the message I wanted to send using this part of my story. I will be glad if I motivate someone, somewhere to action.

Q: Can you tell us more about the organization you co-founded?
A: I am a co-founder of an organization called Agents of Change Foundation Zambia (ACF) whose vision is to address climate change and HIV prevention by creating a platform for young people to engage in discussions around these social challenges. It was established in 2014 by an group of young people who had been working together as UNICEF Climate Ambassadors and Youth Facilitators in UNICEF Zambia's Unite4Climate program. One of the signature programs is the Unite4Climate radio program which is being implemented with the support of the Children's Radio Foundation that seeks to amplify youth voices using radio. ACF trained about 100 young people as youth reporters across three Zambian provinces and consequently established five radio programs were these young people run shows on a weekly basis.

Q: How do you plan to continue to contribute toward the benefit of Africa in the future?
A: My vision is to see that young people are engaged in governance and recognized as key stakeholders in enabling change. Thus, in the future I wish to strongly work in the public policy sector and work with young people. I also hope to establish a political academy that works with youths from various political parties while inculcating in them values of integrity and ethical leadership. At the moment I am also part of the executive team of a newly formed institution dubbed Future Africa which wishes to redesign political, economic and social discourse in Africa by bridging the gap between decision makers and proven approaches to address current and future development needs on the continent.

Q: Do you have any advice for other Scholars who are trying to accomplish great things in their communities?
A: As an international student, oftentimes it seems very hard for us to implement our ideas or continue the work we were part of back home. It is thus important to stay in constant communication with colleagues back home and even just to offer advice. One thing that helps me think about creating change is asking myself that if today was my last day on earth, what would I be remembered for? Coupled with my passion for serving humanity this drives me to ensure that I am doing something to create meaningful change. This change can be as small as helping at home and this habit grows and one gets to affect change in their community.

Q: Any additional thoughts you would like to share?
A: Young people should seek to make change even when their efforts don't seem to be beneficial and do things not because they want to be seen but because they are doing the right thing. This will ensure that they stand the test of time when they face challenges while executing their plans.

You can see Luyando featured in Real Leaders Magazine here, where he serves as a reminder to all youth that anyone can make a difference in their community. You can also read Luyando's biography here, on the website for The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at Michigan State University.

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