USIU-Africa hosts Mastercard Foundation President and CEO, Reeta Roy

By Brenda Odhiambo

On Monday, October 30, USIU-Africa hosted Mastercard Foundation President and CEO, Reeta Roy. The visit was an opportunity for the Foundation and the University to discuss the partnership between the Foundation and the University through the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program and share experiences.

Reeta was accompanied by Sewit Ahderom, a Mastercard Foundation Board Member; David Bagenda, Country Director for the Mastercard Foundation in Kenya; Ivy Mwai, Head of the Scholars Program Network at the Foundation; and Catherine Ndioo, Program Communications Country Lead for the Mastercard Foundation in Kenya.

During the visit, Reeta was able to engage with the University’s Leadership team, as well as the entire Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program body at USIU-Africa, including the Scholar Council leaders on campus. The Mastercard Foundation Scholars had the opportunity to share their experience at USIU-Africa and within the Scholar network.

The visit also featured a fireside chat with the Scholars, during which Reeta and the Scholars spoke on several issues, including academics, entrepreneurship, leadership, as well as the overall vision of the Mastercard Foundation in relation to the creation of opportunities for young people.

During the session, Reeta shared a few experiences that helped shape her journey over the course of her career, which also led to her role as the President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation. She urged Scholars to constantly seek ways to overcome their challenges, noting that opportunities would always present themselves as long as they did the work.

“Don’t be afraid to start on the idea you have. Your idea is going to grow; you just need to start working on it. You will be questioned, you will be challenged and tested, but that is how you will learn. Don’t be afraid to start, and remember that it is okay not to have everything figured out when you start,” said Reeta.

“What gives me heart is the kind of Scholars we have in the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. You are exactly what any employer, including the Mastercard Foundation, would look for. Your experiences, exposure, and leadership are what the world is looking for. Your knowledge is exactly what the world needs,” she added.

The day’s highlight was the Scholars Awards Evening, during which the University community formally welcomed the Scholars in Cohort 6 and 7, in addition to recognizing the achievements of 38 top Scholars in the areas of academics, leadership and community service. This year, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at USIU-Africa welcomed 383 Scholars from 19 different African countries, with Scholars from Eritrea and Benin joining the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at USIU-Africa for the first time.

In her remarks, USIU-Africa’s Interim Vice Chancellor Dr. Omolola Omole-Odubekun expressed her gratitude for the partnership between Mastercard Foundation and USIU-Africa, noting that it was critical to nurturing future leaders on the African continent and beyond.

“I am deeply moved by the talent, dedication, and passion I have witnessed in each of you here today. USIU-Africa and the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program are committed to enabling young African Scholars to realize their full potential, and the dedication of these students to leadership, academics, and community service is a testament to the bright future of Africa,” she said.

“You are the future and the now, and we are proud to be here to celebrate with each of you,” she added. Her sentiments were echoed by Ivy Mwai, who noted that the Foundation’s representatives were moved by the reception they had received from Scholars as well as USIU-Africa. She noted that she felt confident that the Scholars would go on to do transformative work within their communities.

Speaking during the session, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program Director at USIU-Africa, Linet Aguko, urged Scholars to take the opportunity that had been presented to them because of the Scholarship and make the most of it.

“I am confident that with the support you will receive from the university community and its partners, coupled with the numerous opportunities and enriching experiences you'll encounter at USIU-Africa, you have the potential to turn your dreams into reality. USIU-Africa offers you an education that can truly take you places,” she said.

During the Scholars Awards Evening, Divine Mugisha, who was recognized as the Top Scholar in Cohort 6, shared her remarks during the ceremony, saying that “receiving this award is not just a personal achievement but a recognition of the support and opportunities that USIU-Africa and the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program have provided. It is a reminder that we have a responsibility to give back to our communities and inspire positive change."

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