Some Zimbabweans studying at various universities in the United States graduated last weekend with others getting an opportunity to rub shoulders with U.S President Barack Obama who delivered one of his last commencement speeches before he leaves office at Howard University in Washington DC.
One of the lucky Howard University graduates who was at the graduation ceremony at which President Obama delivered his commencement speech, Thelma Mubaiwa, says she felt inspired and ready to conquer the world after receiving tips on how to succeed.
“I remember when President Obama was running for office and I was in high school and I vowed that one day I was going to see him and be in his presence and follow his foot steps. So for him to be at my university at my graduation right before he leaves office as the first black president of the United States it was very momentous and it just gave me that support and that drive to continue going and I can possibly see myself in similar shoes like him,” said Mubaiwa.
Mubaiwa, who came from Zimbabwe at the age of nine, said it has been a long journey for her as she had to work to fund her studies while also attending school. Mubaiwa obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science majoring in politics and Afro-American Studies.
She said President Obama’s speech, highlighting the need for people never to give up, is exactly what she faced before graduating at the weekend.
President Obama did not only inspire the graduation class of 2016 but also lit a fire in one of the parents of students that was graduating in finance.
Mrs. Patience Musonza came to see her second son to attend Howard University, Tapiwa, graduating. Mr. Obama’s speech inspired her to take up a nursing degree at the same university starting this fall.
“President Obama spoke to us about having a strategy and to persue your passion but with a strategy. That inspired me to go back to school since my two sons have now graduated and now have time on my hands. Age is but a number and I am looking forward to carry on with my education at Howard University,” said Mrs Musonza.
Another Zimbabwean, who graduated from Berea College in Kentucky and will be heading to Wall Street where he has secured a position with Goldman Sachs, Leslie Matereke, said the road was not easy but was definitely worth it.
Matereke was on the United States Students Achievers Programme (USAP) which assists under privileged academically gifted kids to get education. He urged others, who would like to persue their studies in the United States, to utilise USAP and other similar programes.
Matereke said he received a lot of extended family support as he was an orphan but that never stopped him from wanting to reach his full potential by taking advantage of opportunities offered to advance himself academically.
He said his biggest cheerleader was his late grandfather in rural Masvingo who was an avid listener of Studio7.
My grandfather was an avid listener of Studio7 and he valued education and my extended family invested in me and encouraged me to persue the highest level of education that I could without fear and I followed that calling,” said Matereke.
Matereke graduated with two degrees. He said although the road was difficult and consisted of a lot of sleepless nights, he is excited that he has now completed his studies.
He said although he would like to one day go back to Zimbabwe the environment in the country has to be conducive enough to ensure that he can freely contribute the professionalism he is acquring from this country.
Another Zimbabwean young lady, Idah Karonga, said she is looking forward to her gradution at Madison College in Edgewood Winsconsin this Sunday.
Karonga said she graduated with two degrees in the four years she was at the college and has already secured employment in the United States but her wish is to return home to Zimbabwe in future.
Most of the Zimbabwean students who continue to graduate from American Colleges say they would like to return home to help rebuild the country but the situation is not yet condusive for advancing their careers.
Last week Vice President Philekezela Mphoko, while opening the African Capacity Building Foundation’s 25th anniversary in Harare, called on African countries to harness their human capital resources and set up initiatives to curb brain drain in the continent.
But many are curious to see what steps Zimbabwe is making to make this a reality.