Twenty seven Zimbabwean students graduated from the United States Student Achievers Program (USAP) of EducationUSA and have received full scholarships to study at a variety of top American universities and colleges. The students were applauded by Ambassador Bruce Wharton, who hailed the occasion as celebrating “the transformative power of education.”
The students are Alpha Ngwenya (Arizona State University), Alvin Chitema (Wesleyan University), Clarety Kaseke (Barnard College), Clive Tinashe Matsika (Arizona State University), Cybil Mupazviriwo (Ashesi University), Eric Khumalo (UC Berkeley), Esau Mhandu (Ashesi University), Fadzai Mataru (Yale University), Farai Albert Mutonhori (University of Rochester), Jennipher Alista Panashe (Ashesi University), Joel Tshite (University of Southern Indiana), Kudakwashe Chieza (Ashesi University), Kudzaishe George Zharare (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Lincoln Mtemeri (Arizona State University ), Liqhwa Nokukhanya Lubimbi Ncube (University of Pennsylvania), Lovender Phiri (Arizona State University), Malvern Madondo (College of St Scholastica), Mpoyana Panashe Mayangamutse (Michigan State University), Munashe Mugonda (Franklin College), Nomaquawe Ncube (Wellesley College), Ntombizodwa Makuyana (Arizona State University), Rutendo Madziwo (Smith College), Sancharz Runyararo Gore (Harvard University), Shantel Marekera (Arizona State University), Sisasenkosi Mandi (Brown University), Tapiwanashe Blessing Zvidzwa (Grinnell College), and Tatenda Makuvatsine (Lander University).
The students earned a combined total of $6.1 million in scholarships for four years of study at American universities. Among them are 14 MasterCard Foundation Scholarship recipients who will study at University of California Berkeley (1), Arizona State University (7), Wellesley University (1), Michigan State University (1) and Ashesi University (4) which is an American-style institution based in Ghana.
The students were part of USAP, implemented by the EducationUSA Advising Center based at the Embassy’s Eastgate offices with satellite offices at the Gweru Memorial Library, Bulawayo Public Library and the Turner Memorial Library in Mutare. The program assists academically gifted, economically disadvantaged students who show leadership and an ethos of giving to negotiate application and financial aid processes and earn scholarships to top American colleges and universities.
USAP began in 1999 as a joint brainchild of EducationUSA Country Coordinator Rebecca Zeigler Mano and then Public Affairs Officer D. Bruce Wharton. Since its inception, USAP has assisted hundreds of Zimbabwean students to get accepted to selective universities in the United States. Some have since graduated and are working in various fields in Zimbabwe and elsewhere around the world, and others have chosen to further their education at the post-graduate level.
“The track record of USAP alumni proves that giving talented, motivated, and high-achieving young people the opportunity to pursue higher education can position them to change organisations, industries, communities and even countries,” said Ambassador Wharton.
This year’s 27 graduating students were selected from diverse Zimbabwean schools across Zimbabwe and come from communities which include Victoria Falls, Chipinge, Nkayi, Chinhoyi, Murewa, Mutare, and Bikita. They include students who come from humble backgrounds, but were able to attend top mission and private high schools on scholarships from Capernaum Trust and Makomborero, as well as students who attended high-density and rural schools.
The Guest of Honor was Dr. Sekai Nzenza, who is also the Board Chair and Managing Director of Amatheon Agri Zimbabwe. Dr. Nzenza told the excited students return to Zimbabwe and contribute to the development of the country. Quoting from a song by Zimbabwean musical icon Oliver Mtukudzi—“Dada nerudzi rwako”—Dr. Nzenza reminded the students that their relatives and communities are the people who have made them who they are and will continue to have meaning in their lives. “There is a sense of inferiority when you go to strange new places; that sense of inferiority is normal, but it must be overcome by the sense that I am who I am and I am intelligent,” said Dr. Nzenza, who herself undertook studies in the U.K. and Australia before returning to work in Zimbabwe.
The USAP model has been replicated around the world in countries which include Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Malawi, Mongolia, Nigeria and Zambia. – ZimPAS © June 17, 2015