Community Service Yields U.S. Scholarships for 28 Zim Students

Ambassador Wharton with the students
Ambassador Wharton with the students

A combination of community service and academic excellence has paid off for 28 Zimbabwean students who collectively earned $5.6 million of scholarships to pursue tertiary education at various United States colleges and universities. This was revealed at an event hosted by the Public Affairs Section at the United States Embassy on Monday.

“We are celebrating another 28 brilliant young Zimbabweans who are off to take advantage of about $5.6 million worth of scholarships, scholarships which you all have earned by your hard work at school; by your consistent brilliance,” said U.S. Ambassador Bruce Wharton.

The students are Angel Sibanda, College of St. Scholastica; Bazil Mupisira – Grinnell College; Betty Mafemera – Cottey College; Charity Bhebhe – Arizona State University; Chiza Mwinde – Smith College; Duane Madziva – Yale University; Gloria Sengwe – University of Southern Indiana; Gwendolene Mugodi – Brown University; Hezel Gadzikwa – Bryn Mawr College; Itai Muzhingi – Amherst College; Kudakwashe Chinyama – Furman University; Kudakwashe Mawunganidze – University of Pennsylvania; Lisa Luka – Wellesley College; Munyaradzi Mahiya – U.C. Berkeley; Nyasha Shumbayarerwa – EARTH; Orwell Madovi – Michigan State University; Patrick Zamba – U.C. Berkeley; Prosper Feya – University of Rochester; Roy Randen – Yale University; Simbarashe Chakanyuka – Sewanee/University of the South; Tanyaradzwa Chinyuki – EARTH; Taringana Guranungo – Dartmouth College; Tatenda Chakoma – Hamilton College; Tatenda Nyandoro – Undergraduate Exchange Program; Terens Muradzikwa – Harvard College; Theresa Nyapokoto – Lipscomb University; Wayne Maumbe – Amherst College; and Yevedzo Chipangura – College of St. Scholastica.

The students completed a year-long mentorship program, called the United States Achievers Program (USAP), sponsored by the U.S. Embassy. Explaining the program, EducationUSA Country Coordinator, Rebecca Zeigler Mano said USAP assists economically disadvantaged but academically gifted Zimbabwean students doing their upper sixth to negotiate the application process to gain scholarship funding to top American colleges and universities through seminars and workshops. “To qualify, they should exhibit leadership potential and an ethos of giving back to their community,” said Zeigler Mano.  USAP finances all costs of the application process, including registration fees for required standardized examinations, visa fees and air tickets and provides free membership to the EducationUSA Advising Center.

Among the students is University of Carlifornia- Berkely-bound Munyaradzi Mahiya. A witty and passionate representative of people living with disabilities, Munya has been a member of the Junior Parliament as a Senator and was appointed Minister by the Junior President. His openness and ferocious speeches when it comes to disability issues only opened up more doors for him as he became involved in advocacy work with organizations like the Southern African AIDS Information Dissemination Services (Safaids), Justice for Children Trust and Leonard Cheshire Disability.

Through these organizations, he went on to represent youth with disabilities in countries like Belgium, the USA and Zambia. In 2013, he travelled to the United States to participate in a wheelchair basketball camp at the University of Missouri. He was also appointed as the Under 23 captain of the Zimbabwe wheelchair basketball squad and led this team at an African Championship Tournament in April 2013 where they won a bronze medal.

Binga resident, Chiza Mwinde, is bound for Smith College and has always been passionate about changing the general perception about her home area, which is considered remote and “backward.”  The former Guinea Fowl High student is currently teaching science at Manjoro High school in her home area of Binga. “Teaching science is one of the ways I can encourage female students that they too can succeed in school as any boy child can,” she says.

Another student, Simbararshe Chakanyuka, who will be studying at the University of the South (Sewanee), is known for his love for choral music. However, the former St. Patricks High school student was the project coordinator of his school’s Interact Club, where he engineered fund-raising projects to pay tuition fees for underprivileged children in the nearby Chiwundura resettlement area. He continued his voluntary spirit at the Jairos Jiri Naran Center for the Hearing Impaired amongst other numerous activities in Gweru.

Kudakwashe Chinyama, an aspiring accountant from Epworth, spearheaded the ‘Love to Learn’ and ‘Friends to the Environment’ projects, which are aimed at promoting education in his community.

The USAP program is an initiative of the United States Embassy in Harare and has benefitted over 300 Zimbabwean students since its start in 1999. Today, the program has been replicated in 12 countries.

When USAP was first established, Ambassador Wharton was in Zimbabwe and oversaw education, media and cultural programs in his first tour of the country.  Congratulating the scholarship recipients, the American diplomat shared his experiences during the initial days of the program.

“But it was my great fortune at that time 15 years ago, just to be the person who said “Yes!” “Because that’s all I really did; I just said “Yes, let’s try this,” said the United States Ambassador who paid tribute to the Embassy staff and all the individuals who assisted the students during the school year, including their parents and relatives.”Be proudly Zimbabwean,” urged Ambassador Wharton. “You come from a great country and you will come back here and make it even better. So be proud of where you come from and who you are.”- ZimPAS © June 18, 2014