Trinity Partners with The MasterCard Foundation to Bring Talented African Students to Hartford

Ability to Provide Supportive Environment Was Key Factor in Being Tapped to Participate
Hartford, Conn., October 31, 2013 -- Academically talented young people from Africa who have demonstrated a commitment to their communities are now making their mark at Trinity College, thanks to an innovative scholarship model that Trinity is piloting with The MasterCard Foundation. 
L-R: Abdirahman "Nasri" Abdilahi '17 (Somaliland), Miriam Atuya '16 (Kenya), Fatty Al Ansar '17 (Mali), Tracy Keza '17 (Rwanda), and Eddy Oketch '14 (Kenya)
Photo by Richard Bergen
Beginning this academic year, the initiative is bringing three outstanding African students on full scholarships to Trinity annually, with The MasterCard Foundation contributing a total of $715,000 in support over seven years. The MasterCard Foundation funds a portion of the scholarships, flexible financial support that can be used towards tuition, and funds for expenses not covered by financial aid, including travel, visas, and computers. Trinity commits to co-funding the balance of tuition as well as providing ongoing mentorship and guidance to students through dedicated faculty and staff liaisons.

Trinity had been collaborating for several years with African Leadership Academy―a pan-African secondary institution―to provide opportunities for economically disadvantaged, academically talented African students to study at Trinity. The College’s proven ability to provide a supportive environment for students was a significant factor in its being tapped as one of eight partner institutions for this pilot scholarship program. The partner institutions―including universities in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa―were also selected for their academic excellence, and because the programs of study they offer are relevant to Scholars’ career aspirations.

This fall semester, Trinity admitted its second class of MasterCard Foundation Scholars: Abdirahman “Nasri” Abdilahi, Fatty Al Ansar, and Tracy Keza, all members of the Class of 2017. They join Trinity sophomore Miriam Atuya ’16 and junior Eddy Oketch ’15, who were named MasterCard Foundation Scholars last year.

The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program is built on the premise that investing in education is a catalyst for social and economic advancement. This initiative provides students with comprehensive support for tuition, mentoring, and voluntarism. 

“More than scholarships, this is about developing next-generation leaders who will return to Africa and make a difference in their communities,” says Deepali Khanna, director of youth learning at The MasterCard Foundation. 

“This program from The MasterCard Foundation increases our ability to reach out to international students, enhances the classroom experience, and makes Trinity a better place,” according to Mandi Haines, associate director of admissions at Trinity. “Plus, demographically, the African continent is so young—the future of the whole continent is so dependent on youth. For Trinity to have a role in the education of these future leaders is huge,” adds Haines.

The Scholars contribute greatly to Trinity’s academic and intellectual community, says Garth Myers, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban International Studies. “The MasterCard Foundation Scholars are among the best students we have,” he says. “They come here with the ability to think globally and hit the ground running. I’ve been a beneficiary as a professor because they contribute so much to my classroom,” he continues.

“In my ‘African Cities’ class, I actually turned the class over to Eddy Oketch for one lecture on governance in Nairobi, Kenya.” A victim of postelection violence in 2008, Myers explains, Oketch started a nongovernmental organization that was instrumental in preventing an outbreak of violence in that country’s most recent elections. “The whole class gained from having one of their peers speak to them about his firsthand experience.”

Oketch, a graduate of African Leadership Academy who is majoring in political science at Trinity, was invited last year to moderate a panel discussion for world leaders at the G8 Summit at Camp David. This past summer, he was recognized by Youth Village Africa as one of the 30 most inspirational young people on the African continent. 

“All students benefit from having a diverse community of learners,” says Associate Professor of Political Science Stefanie Chambers, who has also enjoyed the presence of MasterCard Foundation Scholars in her own classes. “They contribute a different point of view on what we do in the U.S. and what they see in their own countries’ political systems.”

Chambers, who traveled to Kenya this summer to take part in a conference The MasterCard Foundation held for scholarship recipients heading to colleges overseas, is grateful to the Foundation for its support of this program. “These are young people with incredible leadership potential who are going to make wonderful contributions in their own countries,” she says. 

Founded in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1823, Trinity College ( is an independent, nonsectarian liberal arts college with more than 2,200 students from 47 states and 54 countries. It is home to the eighth-oldest chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in the United States. The faculty and alumni include recipients of the Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur award, Guggenheims, Rockefellers, and other national academic awards. Trinity students integrate meaningful academic and leadership experience at all levels on the College’s celebrated campus, in the capital city of Hartford, and in communities all over the world.

The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, global organization based in Toronto, Canada, with more than $7 billion in assets. Through collaboration with partner organizations in 46 countries, it is creating opportunities for all people to learn and prosper. The Foundation’s programs promote financial inclusion and advance youth learning, mostly in Africa. Established in 2006 through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide when it became a public company, the Foundation is a separate and independent entity. The policies, operations, and funding decisions of the Foundation are determined by its own Board of Directors and President and CEO. To learn more about The MasterCard Foundation, please visit