Since Alice became a These Numbers Have Faces scholar in 2014, we’ve watched her rise to the top of her University classes, represent Rwanda at an international engineering conference in India, and develop her leadership skills at the Africa Youth Leadership Forum in Goma, DRC.
Looking at Alice’s resume, you’d assume her background provided her with every opportunity to succeed.
In reality, Alice has spent nearly 20 years living in a refugee camp in Northern Rwanda. It would seem she has reason to complain, or lose hope; but that is the polar opposite of who Alice is -- brave, determined, faithful.
At a recent Leadership Training in Rwanda, our staff announced to Alice that she was chosen to be an intern at Allion USA Engineering Services in Oregon this summer! As the room filled with applause, and fellow scholars ran to hug her, Alice said she felt like she was in a dream.
But it’s real, Alice. You made it happen.
Regardless of circumstances, we believe all our scholars are capable of achieving their vision, and having a seat at the business meeting, the engineering lab, the University lecture hall.
As we get ready to welcome Alice to the USA in June 2016, we invited her to share a bit more of her story, and why her hope is an unstoppable force.
Who or what inspired your passion for engineering?
I had a teacher in primary school who told me that I am bright and capable. When I reached secondary school, I became inspired by historical scientists like Einstein and Newton. At that moment, I wished to be part of the women who would participate in the advancement of science.
By the time I reached high school, I had analyzed my community and found the need for electricity was paramount. I believe electricity is the backbone of development. I wish to be part of the great work that will develop my community.
Did your childhood influence your desire to pursue a college education?
My childhood has absolutely influenced my desire to pursue a college education. I was motivated by my parents, grandparents and teachers. They believe in me and have always told me that I can make it.
There have been many challenges to pursue a University degree, however, because refugees do not have access to government tuition assistance. As a refugee, I had no way to afford college. Despite this challenge, I worked hard and was determined, because I believe that the best inheritance is your knowledge. No one can take away what you learn. I never lost my belief that one day I would be a University student.
Tell us about your role as a leader in your community?
I was the first female math teacher at Hope School in the Gihembe Refugee Camp (a volunteer-based school). Teaching gave me confidence in what I am capable of doing. It was hard work, but I was serving my community and I knew that was important.
I became an example to other girls, showing them that they can study, work hard, and become something, like their brothers. I grew to be a leader and saw that I could positively influence the youth in Gihembe. My hope is that they will keep working hard, be determined and never lose their vision. That is what I tell them and show them through my own example.
What was your reaction when you heard Allion was offering you an internship?
When I heard about the opportunity of becoming an intern at Allion, I was so excited. Allion is a big company and I know I will learn so much from them - with electronics, engineering and leadership. This internship will influence my future.
I would like to thank Allion for this amazing opportunity. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I can't wait to see you soon!