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Published: July 26, 2013
Harare- Twenty-one academically talented but economically disadvantaged Zimbabwean students have received over $5.6 million in scholarships from various American colleges and universities where they will pursue studies over the next four years.
U.S. Ambassador D. Bruce Wharton made the announcement during a sendoff ceremony for the students, all of whom are graduates of the United States Achievers Program (USAP), entering its fourteenth year of assisting academically gifted student leaders from economically disadvantaged backgrounds negotiate the application process to top US colleges and universities.
“This group represents over 300 USAP students who have received scholarships after successfully completing the United States Achievers program. And their achievements represent the United States has committed over $70 million to provide quality higher education to Zimbabwean USAP students who have made an impact in various aspects of Zimbabwean life,” said Ambassador Wharton.
When the USAP program was launched in 1999, Ambassador Wharton was serving as Public Affairs Officer during which time he supervised US Embassy education programs, among other public diplomacy initiatives in Harare. Since the establishment of USAP at the US Embassy in Harare in 1999, over 300 USAP students have earned full scholarships covering tuition and fees, room and board, books and other expenses for four year bachelor degree studies.
Award-winning human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa was guest of honor at the event which was witnessed by the students and their parents and relatives. USAP students who have graduated from the U.S. and have returned to work in a variety of capacities in Zimbabwe were on hand to witness the event.
This year, 21 students are being recognized for completing the program. The students earned a combined total of $5.6 million in scholarships over four years. Among them are five MasterCard Foundation Scholarship recipients who will study at Michigan State University (2), Arizona State University (2) and University of California at Berkeley (1).
This year’s USAP graduated are from diverse backgrounds and regions of Zimbabwe. Bonginkosi Sibanda (Sizane, Gokomere)– Brown University; Celebrity Yeukai Nyikadzino (Daramombe) – Reed College; Clement Kudakwashe Nyanhongo (Marist Nyanga)– Dartmouth College; Destiny Simbainashe Mhishi (Mabvuku, Makomborero)– Lipscomb University; Emmerson Zhaime (Goromonzi, Nhowe) – Hamilton College; Evangelista Chicheko (Monte Cassino) – College of St Scholastica; Florence Takaendesa (Seke 1, Zengeza 1) – University of Southern Indiana; Johannes Maronga (Mzingwane) – St John’s College, Santa Fe; Mitchelle Matesva (St. David Bonda) – University of Pennsylvania; Ngoni Mugwisi (Mkoba 1, Thornhill) – Arizona State University; Prosper Tapiwa Chitongo (Mandedza, St. Faith) – Colgate University; Ryan Itayi Maponga (Seke 1, Makomborero) – Tufts University; Sabastian Mugazambi – (ZRP igh, St. Faith’s) Carleton College; Samantha Muchongwe (Hartzell) – Smith College; Sibusisiwe Mukwakwami (St. Augustine’s Penhalonga) – University of California at Berkeley; Simbarashe Chidyagwai (St. Francis Chivhu)– Michigan State University; Simosenkosi Nkomboni (Empandeni) – Mount Holyoke College; Stancellous Matoreva (Mkoba 1, Thornhill) – Harvard University; Takudzwa Tapfuma (St. Columba’s) – Amherst College; Theresa Nyapokoto (Monte Cassino) – Lipscomb University; and Yolanda Nyanhete (St. Dominic’s) – Arizona State University.
The United States Achievers Program (USAP) is a yearlong learning experience for economically disadvantaged but academically gifted Zimbabwean students in their Upper Sixth year who exhibit leadership potential and an ethos of giving back to their community. Through seminars and workshosp, USAP empowers the students to negotiate the application processes and gain scholarship funding to top American universities and colleges. USAP finances all costs of the application process, including registration fees for required standardized examinations, visa fees and air tickets and provides free membership to the EducationUSA Advising Center.
“The experience of USAP students studying in the United States over the past thirteen years has been exceptionally positive,” said Rebecca Zeigler Mano, EducationUSA Country Coordinator. “Academically, they have performed extremely well, and many have worked with professors as teaching assistants or in academic research, especially in Math and Science fields. Socially they have been engaged in, and have spearheaded, a wide variety of initiatives– clubs, sports, music and dance troupes, and community service and leadership activities on campus and in their surrounding communities. We are very proud of their collective accomplishments and look forward to the positive change they have already started to implement in Zimbabwe.”
As an alliance, the students have formed their own Facebook groups and website (www.usapglobal.org) as well as annual USAP Forums to support one another and provide a sounding board for ideas, the sharing of triumphs and challenges. USAP students in the U. S. also manage a U.S.-based USAPCares fund that assists future USAP students to reach their dreams of studying in the United States by financing parts of the preparations for these students and carrying out community service initiatives in USAP students’ communities. The students on the ground carry out these initiatives with the help of funds generated by the students in the U.S. This year, USAPCares spearheaded projects at ZimKids in Bulawayo, Jairos Jiri in Gweru, Chiedza Childcare Centre in Harare and Simukai Child Protection Program in Mutare.
A recent short film titled “USAP: What an Achievement!” and produced by Kumbulani Zamuchiya and Nigel Wilson won the NAFSA: Association of International Education’s international education video contest and was shown before an audience of over 7000 international educators at the NAFSA Annual Conference in St. Louis, Missouri in May.
The USAP program, established in 1999, has been replicated in over 12 countries including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Latvia, Malawi, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia.