Photo courtesy of Drake communications
BY ASHLEYMARIE DAIL
In the midst of the summer months when campus is quiet, Drake will be hosting the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders for the third consecutive year.
This prestigious program, partnered with Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), allows African leaders and entrepreneurs to visit the United States to learn about leadership and to make connections with local businesses and personnel. The goal is that the young adults who participate in the program will bring back what they have learned to their communities.
YALI and the Mandela Washington Fellowship are incredibly selective when choosing universities and students. This year, 26 colleges and universities will host the program. In addition to Drake, other schools on the list include Dartmouth College and Northwestern University.
Hosting this program is an honor and incredibly prestigious according to both Stephanie Dana Ely, Global Partnerships and Special Programs coordinator, and Marty Martin, Drake University President.
“We are a globally engaged and connected institution, and in the 21st century, you have to be a globally connected institution,” Martin said. “That is something we have made a commitment to.”
Martin explained that hosting this program for the third time shows Drake is living its globally-connected standard.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship program has also helped Drake in hosting other programs.
“It has helped us incorporate leadership development plans with other things like the (Makarere University Business School exchange) program,” Ely said.
The MUBS program is an exchange program in which Drake and Makarere University, located in Uganda, partner together to allow the opportunity for students to see other countries with fellow students.
Drake is also home to a number of African students and the Mandela Washington Fellowship is beneficial to these students as well. Nyasha “Nya” Makaza, a senior from Zimbabwe and president of the African Students Association, was thrilled to make connections with the YALI scholars.
“I think this program is incredible, and just the opportunity to make contacts, connections and to have this experience is really incredible. It is really important for African entrepreneurs,” Makaza said.
When Drake hosted the program in years past, Makaza has been similar to a student ambassador to those participating in the program. She recalls one year meeting a man from Zimbabwe and was able to speak with him in the Shona language, an opportunity she often doesn’t come across studying at Drake.
While the YALI scholars are here this summer, they will be able to explore Des Moines with the help of students like Makaza. In years past, they have gone to concerts, to the Downtown Farmers Market and to dinners with business owners in Des Moines.
This year, Drake has run into a happy scheduling problem. More and more families and business personnel want to host scholars and have them over for dinner and to speak with them.