There was pomp and fanfare in Harare on Friday as 27 academically gifted students from economically disadvantaged families from all over Zimbabwe were awarded scholarships worth $6 million to study in the United States under the USA Education’s United States Student Achievers Program (USAP).
Speaking at the ceremony, United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bruce Wharton, congratulated the students saying he was pleased that Zimbabweans believe in the power of education.
Wharton said the USAP program, launched in 2000 when he was public affairs officer at the U.S Embassy had made the U.S and Zimbabwe proud.
The students, who were accompanied by their parents and relatives, expressed their great joy in going to America to do various studies in some of the best universities and colleges in U.S.
Alpha Ngwenya of Victoria Falls, who is headed for Arizona State University, said he will do his best in his studies.
Malvern Madondo, who attended All Souls Mission and St Francis of Assisi in Chivhu, is set to study mathematics at the College of St. Scholastic.
He said after his studies he will go back to Zimbabwe to address development issues.
Sisasenkosi Mandi, who did her secondary education at Masiyephambili College in Bulawayo and will study public health at Brown University, also promised to go back home after her studies to help local communities.
Among those who got a scholarship was a Congolese national, Joel Tshite, who grew up at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge, Manicaland province.
Tshite, who is going to study electrical engineering at the University of Southern Indian, is excited that his refugee status did not deter him from achieving his dreams.
Joel’s father, Tshite Chitundalex, said he was very proud of his son’s achievements.
The U.S government has spent more than $50 million on USAP since its inception and more than 300 Zimbabwean students have studied under the program with most of them returning to Zimbabwe after completing their studies.