Africa University Graduate: Natasha Nyirenda

Natasha Nyirenda, Class of 2020

It feels like just yesterday I was graduating from high school, which at that time I believed were the greatest 3 years of my life. Little did I know how much more was in store for me in my university years to come.

There I was a 17-year-old Zambian teenager, getting sent to college through a scholarship offered by Arise Africa and Highland Park United Methodist Church. The shy, timid, and tall young girl had packed her life in just 2 suitcases. I prepared the journey with my 3 brothers who met through Arise and were also scholarship recipients with hope for a brighter future and excitement for the adventure ahead. 

As an incoming freshman, I really didn’t know what to expect. I had not toured any university or college and the only thing I knew about Africa University was that it was in Zimbabwe, Zambia’s neighboring country, and many miles away from home. 

My time away in college has taught me new things about myself, many life lessons, and induced tremendous growth in me. I have mastered the art of procrastination. I have learned to somehow function through a 4-hour class day, even after pulling consecutive all-nighters in the Jokomo Yamada Library. But most importantly, I have learned how to balance the responsibilities of being a student, a resident assistant (RA), and an intern.

She believed she could so she did and this is true.

Four years down the line and I am finished with my undergraduate program of study as a Psychology Major and waiting for my official graduation.

It is sad to know that we are living through a global pandemic and might not have the traditional ceremony of graduation and be capped by the vice-chancellors, dean of students, and faculty. However, Africa University has given me the opportunity to spread my wings and fly! I am grateful for the friends I made from different nationalities that have turned into family. 

What happens next after graduation you may ask?  I would like to hopefully work with a nonprofit organization that helps vulnerable young women in society and protects children and youth rights. I would also like the opportunity to further my education by getting a master’s degree in civic leadership or humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

I believe it is one’s sole responsibility to work hard, aim high, and soar above the clouds. While everyone’s paths are different, have confidence that no matter your situation or perceived statue in society, your truth is more than enough to take you where you want to go. 

I am thankful to God for being my solid rock even in times of distress and times I thought I could not do it or succeed.

I also want to thank Arise Africa and Highland Park United Methodist Church for giving me the opportunity to attend Africa University. I never lacked anything in school and was definitely a privileged student. For that I am grateful.

— Natasha Nyirenda

Africa University, Class of 2020

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