Inaugural Class of Rwandan Presidential Scholars to Graduate

Rwandan Graduates 2011Jean Pierre Rukundo, Mireille Mutesi,
Gilbert Julles Ndayambaje, and
Albine Niwemugeni
CONWAY, Ark. (May 5, 2011) – The first four Rwanda Presidential Scholars will graduate from Hendrix on Saturday, May 14, at 9 a.m. in the Wellness and Athletics Center Event Gymnasium.

The students and their majors are Mireille Mutesi '11, mathematics; Gilbert Julles Ndayambaje '11, mathematics and computer science; Albine Niwemugeni '11, computer science; and Jean Pierre Rukundo '11, physics.

The group arrived on campus in September 2007 during Shirttails Weekend. Overcoming stressful cultural adaptation challenges and language orientation issues, they successfully established themselves as individuals and, during their four years at Hendrix, have greatly enriched the Hendrix community, according to Dr. Sarah Lee, Rwanda Presidential Scholars Program Coordinator in the Office of International Programs and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology.

"They have completely different personalities, attitudes, and engagement," said Dr. Lee, who described Mirielle as "the glue" of the group and Albine is the "quiet strong one."

The students have been ambassadors for Rwandan culture, sponsoring a program for Rwandan and traditional African dance for Hendrix students and traveling to other schools. They have also educated the Hendrix community about the Rwandan genocide, promoting genocide awareness and remembrance, Lee said.

Most importantly, they have made the adjustment to Hendrix easier for successive groups of Rwandan students. There are now 27 Rwandan students at Hendrix through the Rwanda Presidential Scholars initiative.

After commencement, the students will return to work in Rwanda or enroll in graduate school.

Hendrix, founded in 1876, is a selective, residential, undergraduate liberal arts college emphasizing experiential learning in a demanding yet supportive environment. The college is featured in the 2010 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country’s best 371 colleges, was identified as the nation’s top "Up and Coming" liberal arts college for 2011 by U.S. News and World Report, and is ranked among 45 "Best Buy" colleges by the 2011 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.