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MasterCard Foundation Scholars Gather in NYC

"Every MasterCard Foundation scholar has an interesting and inspiring story. Our experiences have motivated us to reach where we are now and continue to forge ahead despite the challenges."

Caroline Latona, Reeta Roy, and Isaac Kalumbu

Every year, about 10 scholars from the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program’s participating institutions across Canada, the United States and Costa Rica take part in its annual partner appreciation dinner in New York. Scholars are selected from a pool of nominations based on the uniqueness of their backgrounds and a well-defined giveback plan. The Annual Partner Appreciation Dinner is an opportunity for partners and scholars present to inspire one another. This year, successful scholars were invited for a three-day event, which included a daylong boot camp on social and business entrepreneurship with successful entrepreneurs such as Miki and Radha Agrawal, Andrew Horn and Doug Akin. The scholars also spent time connecting with counterparts from other universities and countries across Africa (Burundi, Ghana, Lesotho, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe) to share their personal, education and leadership journeys and their giveback projects with one another. It was also an opportunity to explore New York City and meet with the foundation partners who are thought leaders in education, including university presidents from across the scholars program partnership.

In their opening remarks at the Annual Partnership Appreciation Dinner, Reeta Roy, the President and CEO of the MasterCard Foundation and Jim Leech, the Board Chairman of the MasterCard Foundation acknowledged the contributions of partners who work tirelessly to fulfill the vision of the Foundation in providing university education to academically talented young people in Africa who show a commitment to giving back to their communities. Together with the audience, they recognized the scholars with a standing ovation. In response, scholars expressed their gratitude and shared personal and inspiring stories about their background and life journeys prior to their MasterCard Foundation Scholarship awards.

Caroline Latona, a graduate Scholar in advertising who was selected to represent Michigan State University commented that, “every MasterCard Foundation scholar has an interesting and inspiring story, including all 83 of us at Michigan State and others I have met these past three days. Our experiences have motivated us to reach where we are now and to continue to forge ahead despite the challenges. Not only do we get a first class education at Michigan State, we also get to take part in leadership and personal development trainings that prepare us to become well rounded professionals.” Scholars urged the foundation for continued support, as there is so much more to be done in addressing the imbalances in access to education, particularly for the girl-child, the stigmatization of mental illness, unemployment and other concerns based on their experiences.

“For me, it was really a pleasant experience networking with top officials in partner organizations with the MasterCard Foundation but more importantly being inspired by the stories of the scholars who were represented. Sometimes you think you have experienced the worst of things but when you listen to others who have experienced much more, you get really motivated to do more with what you have,” Caroline said.