The Zimbabwean edition of the Yale Young African Scholars (YYAS) 2017 program in partnership with the Higherlife Foundation started yesterday at Arundel School in Harare and will end on the 24th of August. According to YYAS Program Manager Laura A Kaub this years’ program features 103 students ,that is 57 girls and 46 boys from 24 countries drawn from north, east, west and southern Africa. The countries represented include Morocco, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Some of the most exciting and significant topics to be covered during the program include Poaching and Conservation in Eastern and Southern Africa, SATs, Religion and Politics in the 21st Century, African identity, Leadership, Design Thinking and the Food Industry, Multilingualism in Africa and Urban City Planning among many other equally important topics. Laura said they were also going to help students explore diverse courses available besides the traditional preset lawyer or doctor career options many students hold.
Speakers that will have the opportunity to address the students include Yale staff members Prof Jason Stearns on ‘Conflicts across Africa’ and Dan Magaziner will speak on ‘Politics of Heritage in Post Colonial Africa’. Local top Lawyer and Human Rights activist Fadzai Mahere will also have a talk with the students. The visiting YYAS team consists of 3 Yale staff members and 16 undergraduate Yale instructors among which 14 are African.
In her opening speech businesswoman and Software Engineer Natalie Jabangwe Morris (General Manager, EcoCash) shared her inspiring life story of resilience, hard work, self-confidence, education and faith. She zoned in on the significance of having a good education from top universities abroad. She has a BSc in Information Technology and an MBA from the prestigious Imperial College in London, United Kingdom.
“The exposure I got from the international universities I went to absolutely makes a difference. I was able to get something that I wasn’t able to experience here in Africa and that truly made a difference, sometimes being in an environment with the best practices and best learning experiences makes a difference”, she said.
“The university you go to will determine what type of opportunities you will have, the kind of friends you will have for life and the companies you will work for. For instance Mark Zucker Bag got an idea to start facebook because he went to Havard university, if he hadn’t do you think he would have had that idea?”, she further said.
She encouraged students to work hard giving an example in her life where she had to sit 3 times for an exam before she finally passed it. She said the young students had to have a mindset poised at being the best in whatever they pursue. Success is not about money alone but rather the impact you make on changing the world she said. She also encouraged them to grab a hold on opportunities that come their way as this would determine where the course of their lives. She intimated that she drew inspiration from a book titled ‘Outliers’ by Malcom Gladwell.
YYAS is an all expenses paid program designed for talented African students between 14 and 18 years old who have interests in studying at universities in the United States. The program aims to introduce students to university and financial aid application process and requirements. Participating students attend lectures and seminars developed by Yale faculty staff and Yale student instructors. This is meant to accentuate their leadership skills and encourage critical thinking in an effort to address the continent’s challenges and opportunities.