Young leader

Zinzi Nsingwana, Imagine Scholar graduate and MasterCard Foundation scholarship recipient, attends the Early Connection Africa program at Rochester University to prepare for life at university.

Author: Adelaide Columnas (Quotes: Zinzi Nsingwana)

The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program is a unique opportunity that provides access to resources for secondary and tertiary education for ambitious young Africans who wish to give back to their respective communities in a meaningful way. Recipients of the scholarship attend a summer college orientation program at Rochester University, the Early Connection Africa program, in order to prepare them to transition into university.

“Going to Rochester for college orientation was the best way to spend summer break because it was a chance for me to experience a whole different environment, and I also got a chance to experience a month of back to back assignments and tests. Hopefully college is like that, because I am ready.”

The program not only highlights the academic components of university life, but also serves to prepare students for cross-cultural collaboration. Youths from numerous countries in Africa are given a change to connect and discuss change in their own dynamic communities.

“It felt great to get such an opportunity, and it was an experience that I will forever be grateful to have had. It was very inspiring because I met a lot of students who are also young leaders in their communities. They had a lot of interesting ideas to share and explore. It felt like I was in a room with all these future leaders and we had all the ingredients and tools to improve Africa [. . .] We talked about issues that Africans face and we derived solutions, and initiated projects that we could implement.”

Such an inspiring and energetic space to unite and share ideas has fueled Zinzi’s drive and hopes for a brighter future for youth in the African continent.

“I am really grateful for the experience; it made me want to push myself to give everything I do my best effort – because that might be the only chance I get to do something. My only wish is to see every child in Africa learning and coming together with other children to change and improve the continent.”

Upon further reflection, Zinzi recalls the program being a transformational experience that fostered a new-found excitement for university.

“Experiences either shape or break people, but my Rochester experience sure did shape me. After going through the summer program, I think my mindset about a lot of things has shifted. For the first time in my life, I knew what I wanted to do… what I wanted to study and how I plan on making it through college, and it was the best feeling ever.”

Zinzi plans on focusing her studies in business management. As she embarks on a new chapter of her life at the African Leadership University in Mauritius, she goes in confident and prepared, embracing the possibilities of what the future holds for her.