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Four Rwanda Girls Won Full Scholarships to Top U.S. Universities

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May 3, 2012
In this photo: (from left to right) Melanie Edwards, APAO, US Embassy, Barbara Bylenga, Founder, Open A Door, Charlotte Mugisha, Rina Ntagozera, Sharon Damas Batamuriza, Denyse Niwencuti, and Susan Mbabazi, Program Director, Open A Door.

In this photo: (from left to right) Melanie Edwards, APAO, US Embassy, Barbara Bylenga, Founder, Open A Door, Charlotte Mugisha, Rina Ntagozera, Sharon Damas Batamuriza, Denyse Niwencuti, and Susan Mbabazi, Program Director, Open A Door.

Four Rwanda Girls Won Full Scholarships to Top U.S. Universities

In July of 2011, Open A Door, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping talented young women from Rwanda gain access to university scholarship opportunities in the US, and then return home to become agents of change in Rwanda, organized a competition to get future young women leaders into their program. Fifty Rwanda girls applied. Today we are celebrating that 4 of those girls won full scholarships to top US colleges. Each scholarship is worth approximately $225,000. Open A Door was able to leverage a small pool of money donated from friends and family into scholarships valued at almost $1M.

The four girls are: Rina Ntagozera, who will be going to Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania; Sharon Damas Batamuriza, who will be going to Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont; Charlotte Mugisha is going to Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington and Denyse Niwenshuti, who will be heading to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. (You can have more information about the girls on this Press Release.)

The program involved conducting a thorough interview process to find the best and brightest young women. Candidates were nominated by FAWE, Imbuto Foundation as well as other organizations. After selecting the girls, Open A Door provides them with SAT and TOEFL training preparation classes and then matches them with US mentors who help them navigate the college application and financial aid process. Mentors also negotiated scholarships and will provide emotional support, when the students are in the US.

The US Embassy, through its EducationUSA Advisor: Richard Kaburente provided certification services as well as access to more TOEFL, SAT, and AP testing material. Each student continues to have access to additional material on studying in the US through free membership to the Information Resource Center located in the US Embassy.

This year OAD will accept a second class of Rwandan women in the program who will apply for the 2013 school year, and will also send a US-ESL trained teacher to Rwanda in July and August to prepare the new OAD students for the SAT and TOEFL entrance exams as well as help them fill out US scholarship application forms. Interested students can contact Open A Door through their website at http://www.openadoorfoundation.org/ or through the US Embassy Information Resource Center.

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