50 Rwandan Students Come to Oklahoma

Written by Rachel Dattolo in the October 2009 Issue
Thanks to an ongoing collaboration between the Rwandan government’s Ministry of Education, Oklahoma Christian University, and ROC Partners, up to 50 high school students from Rwanda have furthered their education by coming to OC
on scholarship.

The Presidential Scholars Program, started in 2006, gives select top graduates from Rwanda’s secondary schools the opportunity to attend one of 12 U.S. universities that participate in the program, including OC. The ROC Partners often help in the selection and transfer process.

Evangeline Rukundo, age 24, came to the United States in 2006 as part of the program. She will be among the first Rwandan students to graduate from OC in 2010. Rwandan President Paul Kagame plans to attend the graduation of the first 10 Rwandan Presidential Scholars in April 2010 and give an address.

“Because of mainly poverty and consequences of the genocide, life [is] a lot different back home than it is here; most of the parents are single because one of the spouses died, and most of the children are orphans because one or both parents died,” Rukundo says.

Rukundo loves living in the OC community but what she loves most about the United States so far is “their freedom of speech.”

After graduating, Rukundo wants to go back to Rwanda and work for a time before returning to the U.S. to attend graduate school. She dreams of one day obtaining a Ph.D. in chemistry and using it to improve Rwanda’s energy from natural gas.

Rukundo’s hopes for the future are bright. “Rwanda has been known as a country of trouble and genocide for a long time, [but it] is now a place of peace, progress and hope,” she says. “I myself am a product of this peace and hope, the Rwanda government is putting a lot of effort in education, so that Rwanda will have a better and brighter future.” 
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