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MasterCard Foundation Scholars from around the world to convene at ASU

MasterCard Foundation Scholars
April 11, 2013

Vera Nyarige is looking forward to networking with other students from African nations who are convening at Arizona State University for the first time to share experiences and participate in team-building exercises with MasterCard Foundation Scholars from universities across the globe.

“I’m looking forward to meeting other scholars, socializing and learning ideas to give back to their countries and understand how they want to make Africa a better place and how we can work together to achieve that,” Nyarige said.

Scholars will brainstorm ways to build a strong network among their peer scholars, learn about internship opportunities in Africa and develop initial networking tools during the events this weekend.

“We are very excited to host the first Global Scholars Convening with participants from 15 partners of The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program," said Meggan Madden, director of The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at ASU. "Our ASU scholars will serve as delegates and facilitators at the convening, giving them a unique opportunity to cultivate their leadership and communication skills.”

Ten students from seven African nations started their first year at Arizona State University as MasterCard Foundation Scholars during the fall of 2012. Since arriving, they have excelled in their studies and have become valued members of the university community.

The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program is a $500 million education initiative that identifies academically talented young people from economically disadvantaged communities in developing countries – particularly from Africa. The program provides them with access to quality secondary and university education, and prepares them with the values, knowledge, skills and leadership needed to fuel economic and social progress across Africa. Over the next 10 years, an estimated 15,000 young people will be selected into The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program. The program currently has 145 scholars at the university level, and 600 scholars at the secondary school level.

Nyarige plans to become an oncologist to fight cancer in Kenya where cancer cases often turn fatal and there are not enough oncologists to treat patients, she said.

“I am on my way to realizing my dream because of The MasterCard Foundation,” Nyarige said. “Many cases of cancer were being reported in Kenya and in most cases they led to death. My best friend lost her parents to cancer. … At least 50 patients die of cancer daily in Kenya.”

Through a network of education institutions and non-profit organizations, the program provides holistic support to deserving young people who have leadership potential, and are committed to improving the lives of others in their home communities. Students enrolled in the Scholars Program receive comprehensive scholarships, mentoring, leadership development and life skills support as they transition from secondary to university education and into the workforce.

Nyarige is finishing her first year at ASU as she works toward a degree in biochemistry and pursuing her dream to become an oncologist. Accessing resources like tutoring centers, libraries, research labs, writing centers and the Sun Devil Fitness Complex has proven invaluable for her.

“I love ASU. I am getting involved on campus and I’m also a student leader,” she said. “They make college comfortable academically and socially, making me feel that I am in the best place.”

The educational institutions that comprise the partnership to date are: African Leadership Academy, the American University of Beirut – Faculty of Health Sciences, Arizona State University, Ashesi University, Duke University, EARTH University, Michigan State University, Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley, Wellesley College, University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, McGill University and two secondary school programs with BRAC and Camfed in Uganda and Ghana.

“Since MasterCard Foundation Scholars all have one common goal, of giving back to society, working with them to realize my dream will be a great step in my journey of making Africa a better place health wise,” Nyarige said. “I love learning about new cultures, and since Africa is so diverse when it comes to culture, learning more will be a great opportunity to expand my understanding of my continent.”