Seven Black Scholars in the U.S. From Foreign Nations Have Been Awarded Rhodes Scholarships

The Rhodes Trust has recently announced the 2019 cohort of Rhodes Scholars selected from Rhodes constituencies outside the United States. There are 16 international Rhodes Scholars who are attending or have recently graduated from American colleges and universities. Out of the 16 international scholars at American educational institutions who have been awarded Rhodes Scholarships, seven are Black.

Adam Abebe is from Ethiopia. He is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania where he is majoring in health and societies while also pursuing a master’s degree in nonprofit leadership. Having lived in and visited several African countries, he has been interested in understanding international development through different sectors. He has conducted research on mitochondrial proteins at Penn Medicine, HIV/AIDS and population health in Malawi, and the impact of Chinese investment on Ethiopian infrastructure.

Kofi Gunu is from Ghana. He has worked in the U.S. Senate and at the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2018, he was handpicked to undertake his mandatory national service in the Office of the Vice President of Ghana. Gunu is a summa cum laude graduate from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he majored in government and international affairs. He also holds a master’s degree in global affairs from Tsinghua University in China.

Claudia Kahindi is from Kenya. She is a development assistant at Legal Outreach, an educational nonprofit in New York City. During her undergraduate education at Wesleyan University, she launched an educational project in her hometown Kilifi and served as senator of the Wesleyan Student Assembly, residential advisor, KenSAP President, member of the African Students Association Board, and member of the Patricelli Centre for Social Entrepreneurship Board. Kahindi graduated with honors from the College of Social Studies at Wesleyan University. She has a multidisciplinary major of history, government, economics, and social theory/political philosophy with an African studies minor.

Shantel Marekera is from Zimbabwe. She is the founder of the Little Dreamers Foundation, a subsidized preschool for orphaned and vulnerable children. Additionally, she currently serves as global peace ambassador for Zimbabwe. Marekera is a summa cum laude graduate of Arizona State University where she completed both her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in justice studies in only four years.

Itai Muzhingi is from Zimbabwe. He is currently doing HIV vaccine development projects at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard. During his undergraduate career, he conducted cholera research and got published in the Journal of Bacteriology. Muzhingi holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and biophysics from Amherst College.

Nikkita Ngalande is from Zambia. Currently, she is a senior at Michigan State University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science with a minor in economics. She is a MasterCard Foundation Scholarship recipient and a member of MSU’s honor college. At MSU, she has served as the vice president of the African Student Leadership Association, treasurer of the Actuarial Science Club and as a math tutor for the Engineering and Science Success Academy. Her current research focuses on the fiscal sustainability of local governments within Michigan.

Franck Nijimbere is from Burundi. He has participated in software engineering internships at Google, Goldman Sachs, and Coursera and engaged in research at the Georgia Institute of Technology as a Petit Scholar. He has also co-founded Innovate-257, which is a platform for young Burundian professionals and students aiming to bring innovation to Burundi through collaboration and mentorship. Nijimbere is a summa cum laude graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta where he double majored in computer science and mathematics.

For information on the three African Americans who will become Rhodes Scholars this fall, see earlier JBHE post.

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    • Do you really believe that the average Black African is more educated than the average Black American? You may not believe this, but many of these foundations that target Africa for scholarship and awards have LOWER standards than the average American student would have to go through. I know because I was in Africa and saw for myself who got scholarships and what their level of competencies were at the time. But I digress, the daughter of a friend of mine just got early admission and a full scholarship to study mathematics at a Midwestern university.. This may come as a surprise. She is Black American. I have several Black American friends who hold PhDs. As you may know, there were Black valedictorians who were not admitted to White universities during Jim crow. So even in times of oppression Black Americans performed well.

  1. Petca-
    I’m not saying that a Rhodes Scholar should validate anything. I just want to see Native Blacks get more competitive with African Blacks. I say this because I notice they get really arrogant and display superiority over Black Americans if they since they are doing better.

  2. The awards are for international students therefore Black Americans would not be in consideration for this phase of the competition. The initial description says so. We must be careful in our interpretation of information as well as our attacks on others.

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