Mastercard Foundation Scholar graduates ready to drive change in their communities

12 Jan 2017
12 Jan 2017

Christina Nyandoro; Dr Max Price and Jeremiah Mutungi

From left: Christina Nyandoro, UCT VIce-Chancellor Dr Max Price and Jeremiah Mutungi at 2017 graduation

The partnership between the Mastercard Foundation and University of Cape Town will provide over 338 scholarships to academically talented yet economically disadvantaged students from sub-Saharan Africa, 68 undergraduates and 270 postgraduates. In 2016, three master’s scholars graduated from UCT.

The Mastercard Foundation’s $700 million Scholars Program – which includes mentoring, leadership development, academic, and life skills support – enables young people from the African continent to pursue their academic goals and prepare to transform their communities.

Having recently graduated from their respective fields of study at UCT, three Mastercard Foundation scholars – Christina Nyandoro, Ramontsheng Rapolaki, and Jeremiah Mutungi – are ready to take what they have learned and use it for good.

Ready to spread the rule of law

With her master’s in the bag, Zimbabwean-born Nyandoro hopes that, within the next two years, she will find full-time employment in the legal sector; within a decade, she hopes to find her niche in a large commercial company, at home in Harare.

Nyandoro graduated from UCT with a master’s in Commercial Law. She has high praise for her academic experience at the university.

“The high level of academic and professionalism I experienced during my one-year programme is the thing I am most proud of as a UCT graduate,” says Nyandoro.

But it wasn’t just academia that made Nyandoro’s time at UCT an enjoyable one: “I had an overwhelming experience. One thing that I particularly liked was UCT’s diversity and multicultural environment. This made it easy for me to settle in as I met different people who were friendly and very helpful,” she says.

Weathering the climate change storm

Max Price, Ramontsheng Rapolaki
Another Mastercard Foundation scholar who appreciated the support of the UCT community was Ramontsheng Rapolaki (featured in image, left), from Ladybrand in the Free State. Rapolaki graduated with a master’s of science in ocean and climate science.

“I was taught and supervised by excellent lecturers who are leaders in their fields. I also made good friends and interacted with a lot of people who went out of their way to ensure that I succeeded in my studies,” says Rapolaki.

Through his master’s, Rapolaki pursued his interest in weather and climate studies, particularly the extreme events occurring over southern Africa.

For the next two years, Rapolaki is planning to focus on his PhD., which he began in September 2016. He hopes to contribute to research in African meteorology and climatology, particularly severe weather events in a changing climate.

Making mobile work for Africa

Kenya’s Mutungi who studied a master’s degree in electrical engineering, majoring in telecommunications, has a passion for technology.

“I believe it holds the key to transforming Africa,” he says.

With mobile phone penetration on the constant increase in Africa, the continent’s unbanked - adults without an account at a bank or other financial institution - have been brought into the fast-forming mobile-money ecosystem, enabling them to participate actively in their nation’s economy.

Despite revolutionising the financial sector in Africa, Mutungi does not believe that the full potential of mobile phones has yet been realised. He believes the success of the banking sector can be recreated in other sectors such as agriculture – a backbone of many African economies.

Mutungi’s passion was rewarded during his time at UCT, earning him an award for one of the best three papers at the 19th Annual Southern African Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference.

“I did not believe I stood a chance,” he says. “This has reignited the belief that, whatever one’s academic level, we can all make meaningful contributions to the existing body of knowledge and in our communities at large.”

Story by Carla Bernardo.