Over 300 friends and family gathered at Kigali’s Convention Center on Saturday, June 17, to celebrate the commencement of 40 Bridge2Rwanda Group 6 Scholars. The ceremony included speeches from Founder Dale Dawson, B2R Alum and Rwanda Air Force Lieutenant Jackson Karama, and Group 6 Scholars Pamela Uwase Sebeza and Thierry Uwase. 

Having completed B2R’s 16-month Leadership Academy, these students will attend various universities across the United States this fall, including: Dartmouth, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Notre Dame, and more.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know people from different cultures,” said Edward Kamuhanda, who plans to study engineering at Dartmouth University. “For all my life I’ve been living in Rwanda, so it is like I’ve been living in a small bubble and now it’s the right time for me to get out of the bubble and get to know different peoples, societies and cultures.”

“I’m just looking forward to going to a U.S. college,”  said Jeanne “Lyse” Mugeni, who will attend the University of Rochester. “In [Rwandan] schools, almost every university student is Rwandan. In the U.S. I will find so many different people and experiences. It will be so great!”

As this season of entrance exams, college applications, and the eager expectation of acceptance letters comes to an end, Group 6 Scholars reflected on the impact of this past year and their hopes for the future.

“Some things I have taken for granted, like a girl getting an education and having a voice for example. A boy can go through school and want to change the world and everything, but a girl who goes to school knows she has to help other girls go through school as well. We have to empower each other. I now get to empower those who haven’t gotten the opportunity I have,” said Charity Agasaro, who will study Global Health at Duke University.

“My country [South Sudan] is in turmoil right now, and I believe if I make connections with people [in the U.S] and bring my people home we will be able to help build schools and hospitals and things like that. I grew up working on engines and generators and motor bikes, but I’ve realized that it’s much simpler to repair an engine compared to repairing a society,” said John Maker “Martin” Leets, who plans to pursue a degree in political science at the University of Pennsylvania. “I want to read more about great leaders like Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela and the kind of leadership they had and how they did what they did.”

“Before B2R I thought of poverty as a failure of personal responsibility, but from what I learned in B2R this past year, I’ve learned that poverty is a failure of the community or society where somebody grows up. I’ve learned this year that my life has purpose and that that purpose is to give chances to others and destroy these social injustice,” said Fabrice Bigabiro Mpogazi, attending Tufts University with an interest in computer science. “The most important point that I will remember, even when I go to the U.S., is that with B2R I was given a chance and a reason to be ambitious and to dream. That’s also my mission—to give someone else a reason to dream, a reason to do whatever it is to succeed in their life.

Check out a complete list of where our 40 talented Scholars will be studying this fall below: