By Kunbi Tinuoye
For 17-year-old Abel Gumbo, things couldn’t be better. Only a few months ago he was among more than a thousand students at a high school in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare.
Today he is rubbing shoulders with future leaders at Atlanta’s Morehouse College.
Gumbo is one of 10 students from Africa who have been awarded full scholarships to Morehouse, beginning this fall. Everything is being paid for by billionaire Strive Masiyiwa, Zimbabwe’s richest man, according to the 2011 Forbes list.
The telecom tycoon has committed $6.4 million in scholarship dollars to send 40 African freshmen to Morehouse over a four-year period. This year’s intake comprises of two teenagers from Burundi and eight from Zimbabwe.
“It’s been an experience,” said Gumbo, who is studying for an undergraduate computer science degree. “I have left everything behind to gain an education in America. Computer science is technologically more advanced in the States and I am learning a lot about people from different cultures.”
“All international students are housed in the W.E.B. Du Bois International House, where they are placed with a domestic roommate,” said Gwen Wade, Director of International Student Services and Study Abroad Programs at Morehouse College.
“This helps them to transition to life in the U.S., and the cross-cultural communication enables international students to become more involved and aware of U.S. customs, such as food, music and dress.”
“My life has been transformed,” said Prince Abudu, 17, from Zimbabwe, who is also studying computer science. “Morehouse has taught me the spirit of brotherhood and to strive for success.”
The 10 students, who arrived in Atlanta last month, are the first class of the newly established Ambassador Andrew Young International Scholars program. The international scholarships were set up by the Capernaum Trust, the education arm of Masiyiwa’s Higher Life Foundation.