Two Mastercard Foundation Scholars share their aspirations in celebration of International Day of the Girl Child
To mark International Day of the Girl Child, we share the stories of two inspiring young women and their admirable efforts to empower other young women and girls.
Dorcus Kwagalakwe is a young woman from the Nabitete community in Uganda. Her journey embodies the transformative power of education, and its power to create a better future for girls.
Dorcus’ educational journey was far from easy, especially coming from a family of eight siblings with limited resources. She was able to defy the odds and complete her high school education, thanks to the support of her school, parents, and a scholarship from Fields of Life, an East African organization, which supported her in the completion of her high school education. Her journey to higher education started when she was selected as a Mastercard Foundation Scholar at USIU-Africa, where she is a second-year student in the Bachelor of Science in Accounting program.
Her interactions with peers from different nationalities and backgrounds inspired Dorcus to give back to her community. In 2021, prior to joining USIU-Africa, she founded The Empower Her Initiative, which initially faced financial challenges that hindered its operations. However, her participation in this year’s Social Venture Challenge saw her win funding for the Initiative, that aims to support vulnerable young girls facing violence and abuse due to unplanned pregnancies by providing mentorship, vocational training, and re-enrollment in schools.
Dorcus has also been involved in various community give-back projects, including the provision of bedding to Zion Children’s Home, and desks to Kavilinguni Secondary School in Kenya. Her participation in the Rotaract and Red Cross Club projects underscores her desire to use education as a tool to break down societal barriers, empower girls, and engage communities to bring about positive change.
“My story is an example of the positive impact that young girls and women can have in their communities when they embrace their path with an unshakeable self-belief. Discover resilience in every obstacle and strength in every setback. Dream for the community they want to improve as well as for yourselves. Keep in mind that education is a lighthouse that illuminates the path for others, not only a means of personal improvement. Be the example to demonstrate how you can leave a legacy of change that will improve your communities and the world as a whole by having faith, perseverance, and big aspirations,” says Dorcus.
“Being a Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program Scholar has been a transformative journey that has empowered me because it has given me a platform for academic and personal growth. Taking part in various mentorship and leadership programs as well as the exposure to a diverse community of Scholars have given me the confidence and the skills to pursue my education and career skills with vigour,” says Lenora Kelen, a third-year student at USIU-Africa majoring in International Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. Lenora, who hails from Cameroon, is the co-founder of MbuziBora, a project founded in 2023 that aims to empower widows and single mothers through exotic goat rearing. The project, which was among those that won the 2023 Social Venture Challenge was conceived to promote gender equality, women's financial independence, and empowerment in her community.
A passionate advocate for girl child education, Lenora works tirelessly to break down barriers and create opportunities for girls to access quality education, which she does by serving as a mentor to young girls and sharing her insights on how they can also pursue their educational and career aspirations.
After graduation, Lenora hopes to continue using her knowledge and skills to contribute to her community and country, fostering positive change through ethical business practices.
“To the young girls out there, embrace your dreams with unwavering determination and let no obstacle deter you. Education unlocks opportunities, and passion and commitment are key assets. Seek knowledge to enrich yourself and others, and strive to be a change and empowerment beacon. Be resilient, and courageous, and never underestimate your potential,” she says.