When Zawadi Africa Founder Susan Mboya delivered Meredith’s 2014 commencement address, she spoke about empowerment.
Mboya said she wants to instill in her Zawadi students the same strong values that Meredith College instills in its students. “I love Meredith’s new ‘Going Strong’ brand,”Mboya said. “This phrase captures for me the true essence of women’s empowerment, something I have dedicated my life to over the years.”
The results of Mboya’s efforts can be seen in the Zawadi Africa scholars who have graduated from Meredith as part of the program, which provides African women with scholarships at over 65 top universities in the U.S. and Canada. Meredith began this partnership in 2007, and has welcomed a Zawadi Africa scholar into each incoming class since 2008.
Ida Githu, ’13, and Kagure Wamunyu, ’13, were the first Zawadi scholars to attend Meredith. Both earned degrees at Meredith and engineering degrees at NC State University, as part of Meredith’s five-year dual degree engineering partnership.
“After graduating from Meredith, I got a job as a project coordinator with the Global Environment and Technology Foundation in Arlington, Va.,” said Githu, who earned a chemistry degree at Meredith. She is now continuing her education in the United Kingdom. Githu began her studies at Oxford University in fall 2014, and plans to earn a Master of Science degree in water science, policy, and management.
Kagure Wamunyu earned a mathematics degree from Meredith and a civil engineering degree from NC State. Wamunyu received a full scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in city planning at the University of California, Berkeley.
Wamunyu, like other Zawadi Africa scholars, works hard to give back. “I have actively been involved in organizations that seek to educate children from Africa including being a keynote speaker at Asante Africa Foundation Fundraising dinner in Oakland,” Wamunyu said.
She recently interned with the United Nations-Habitat Headquarters in Nairobi on a slum upgrading program for 34 countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.
“I have also been working on a studio project through my department to provide evidence of health and sanitation impacts on women and girls in Mukuru slum Nairobi to be used in a precedent-setting lawsuit to challenge the land tenure system in Mukuru and other Nairobi informal settlements.”
Githu and Wamunyu were joined at Meredith by Maria Githua, who earned a degree in mathematics in 2013. Githua works at Credit Suisse as a business analyst.
Among the Class of 2014 was Rodda Ouma, the most recent Zawadi Scholar to complete her Meredith degree. She now works as an analyst with Mu Sigma Inc., and plans to go on to graduate school. While earning a Bachelor of Science in chemistry with a minor in mathematics, she also took courses in a variety of disciplines.
“Meredith College provides the opportunity to take classes from various departments outside your major which builds an integrated skill set,” Ouma said. “I have been able to take computer programming, public speaking, statistics, and research classes. Taking sociology and religion classes have expanded my way of thinking because the classes encourage you to see the world through a different lens.”