IMG_6094In early April, Arlene Cash, vice president for Enrollment Management, traveled to Rwanda on a unique global mission to interview and select from among the brightest math and science students in Rwanda. As a member of the Associated Colleges of the South, Spelman now joins Morehouse and Philander Smith colleges as part of the Rwanda Presidential Scholars Program, a program designed to bring Rwandan students to the United States to complete their undergraduate studies. Thanks to the College’s participation, three outstanding female Rwandan students will receive full-tuition scholarships and become members of the entering class of 2014. They are: Janet Akayenzi, Rosine Dushime and Gisele Izera Munyengabe.

“This is a really great opportunity for both Rwandan students and for Spelman, especially given that the College’s strategic plan focuses on global engagement and creating more global opportunities for students,” said Cash, noting that the program also has a study abroad component. “We see these [Rwandan] students representing different cultures and adding to our international community, thereby offering our students the opportunity to learn from them and for them to give back to their country.”

This partnership between Spelman College, the Rwandan Ministry of Education and the William J. Clinton Foundation will afford the three students attending Spelman therwanda2 full cost of attending the College, including books, travel and a stipend. With the exception of tuition, the bulk of all other expenses are paid for by the Rwandan government. The students, whose disciplines include science, technology, engineering and mathematics, will begin their U.S. experience with a 10-week program at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., designed to provide intensive English training and cultural orientation to the United States.

Part of the Rwandan government’s rejuvenation plan, Rwanda 2020, the scholarship program began in 2006 with Oklahoma Christian University when 10 Rwandan students were admitted on scholarship. The following year, four more Rwandan students were admitted to Hendrix College on scholarship. In 2008, more U.S. schools, along with the Clinton Foundation, were recruited to form a consortium to expand the number of scholarships offered. The program has since grown to include 16 public and private institutions throughout the South that will educate more than 130 Rwandan students in Georgia, Arkansas, Oklahoma, California, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina. Thirty new scholars will attend consortium institutions this fall. The program also stipulates that students will return to Rwanda to work for a time after they complete their education.

“Spelman is wholeheartedly committed to this effort,” Cash said of the program. – Alicia Lurry is senior communications specialist and editor of the Spelman Connection for the Office of Communications.