Photo by David Knight '71
CONWAY, Ark. (March 15, 2019) – Hendrix College and the Gashora
Girls Academy of Science and Technology (GGAST) in Rwanda have finalized an
agreement that will offer assistance for up to two of the Academy’s graduates per
year to attend Hendrix. The memorandum of understanding (MOU), signed today at
the Academy, builds upon relationships between Hendrix and organizations in Rwanda
that began more than a decade ago.
Hendrix College played a significant role in creating the Rwanda
Presidential Scholars Program, a partnership with the Rwandan government to
enroll highly talented Rwandan science, technology, engineering, and
mathematics (STEM) students at colleges and universities in the United States.
The first four Rwanda Presidential Scholars arrived on campus in the fall of
2007, and since then, the College has awarded degrees to 41 Rwandan students. Additionally,
Hendrix built a consortium of 18 colleges and universities across eight
southern states; an additional 145 Rwandan Presidential Scholars have matriculated
at these institutions. In 2017, Hendrix awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane
Letters degree to Bridge2Rwanda founder and CEO Dale Dawson, who was
instrumental in aiding the College’s involvement in the Rwanda Presidential
Scholars Program. And as the Rwanda
Presidential Scholars Program concluded, Hendrix expanded its partnership with
Bridge2Rwanda to admit additional Rwandan students; currently five B2R scholars
are enrolled at Hendrix.
Under the terms of the MOU, Hendrix will cover up to the full
cost of attendance—including tuition, fees, on-campus housing, and meal plans—beyond
what the selected students from GGAST can afford. The MOU builds on the work
done by psychology professor Dr. Jennifer Penner and politics and environmental
studies professor Dr. Peter Gess under the Dr. Brad P. Baltz and Reverend
William B. Smith Odyssey Professorship. Their project is titled,
“Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning about Conservation & Science in
the U.S. and Rwanda: A Partnership between Hendrix College & Gashora Girls
Academy of Science and Technology (GGAST).” Penner is currently teaching at GGAST
during a sabbatical from Hendrix.
“There are not a lot of support services in Rwanda for young
women who are interested and talented in STEM fields,” Gess said, adding that
Penner, her Hendrix Department of Psychology colleague Dr. Lindsey Kennedy, and
GGAST interns from Hendrix have launched a substantial wellness program to
enrich the experience of students there.
Financial obstacles affecting Rwandan students’ ability to study
abroad, the excellent academic performance of many students at GGAST, and a
conversation begun several years ago with Gashora’s headmaster, Peter Thorp,
led Gess to introduce the possibility of an MOU to Hendrix President William M.
“Gifted students from Gashora go off to university—often in Rwanda,
Kenya, Tanzania, or Uganda, but also at schools in the U.S. and United Kingdom,”
said Gess. “Some students have larger financial obstacles than others, and we
hope this agreement will make it possible for more of them to pursue higher
education.” Gess says that international students have an extra obstacle
standing between them and Hendrix because they need about $4,000 more for
travel and living expenses than a student from within the U.S. requires.
For the visit to GGAST, Gess and Tsutsui were accompanied by Board
of Trustees member David Knight ’71 and retired Hendrix chemistry professor Dr.
Tom Goodwin. While in Rwanda, they have visited businesses started by Arkansans,
and made a stop to meet with leaders of the Bridge2Rwanda program. Later this
year, a group from the College’s Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics, and
Calling will interact with GGAST students as they travel to the area for a
service-learning trip at a nearby public school.
About Hendrix College
A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix
College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal
arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40
Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic
quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture
in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has
been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more,