Malawi Student Profiles

Taking a USAP Zimbabwe as a perfect sample of assisting the students to achieve their goals, the USAP Malawi was started in 2006 with an aim to support highly qualified students who want to study in the US colleges and universities but have difficulties with financing their study. To date, four students have have come through the Malawian process and are now studying in the US.

Fumbani Chibaka
Gettysburg College '11

Fumbani Chibaka Fumbani was born and raised in Malawi, the warm heart of Africa. He is last born in a loving family of six. Fumba is currently enrolled at the Gettysburg College as a Biochemistry major and Computer Science minor. His hobbies include playing video games, playing intramural soccer, hanging out with friends and creating new stuff on the PC.

Fumbani completed his high school education at Viphya Secondary School in 2003. Upon graduating from High school; he was awarded a scholarship to study at the University Of Malawi College Of Medicine. Through the colleges' community health projects, he had first hand encounters with the failing healthcare system in the rural areas. He inspires to train as a research physician and be directly involved in the improvement of health services in developing countries. His wildest dream is to establish a medical school in Malawi that would help train medical personnel for the country and its neighboring nations. As he climbs up the stepladder toward his dreams, Fumbani is very thankful to have been in the experimental cohort of Malawi USAP.

"It was an amazing experience and a privilege to work with people who believed in me and made me realize of my potential just at the very moments when I doubted myself. The program also exposed me to opportunities and responsibilities that helped hone my personal development. USAP 06-07 was a self defining and maturing process!"

At the Gettysburg College, Fumbani is a lab assistant for a neuroscience professor. He is also involved in the International Club, Amnesty International, Disciple Makers Christian Fellowship, Biosphere, Skeptical Chemists and the Pre-Health Club.

Victor Kamanga
Massachusetts Institute of Technology '12

Victor KamangaVictor Kamanga graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in June 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). The decision to major in EECS was mainly motivated by his strong desire to go back to Malawi to contribute toward technological development in the country. Victor believes that advancements in technology are a major force in enhancing economic growth in a developing country such as Malawi. They improve the job market, and thus increase the employment rate making life better and affordable for most people. Victor argues that EECS has helped him build the foundation he will need as he works toward his goal of contributing toward technological development in Malawi.

With a job lined up with Oracle Corporation, Victor plans to work with the company as a software engineer for a couple of years, after which he plans to go on to do his master's degree. A Master of Business Administration degree is his main target since that will help him continue acquiring the necessary managerial skills he will mostly likely require when he eventually works on his ultimate goal.

Victor is very thankful for having had the opportunity to go to such a prestigious school like MIT. He gives a lot of credit to the United States Achievers Program for making it possible for him to attend such a school; a school that has broaden Victor's imagination and has craftily set him up for greater things ahead.

Tiamo Katsonga Phiri
DePauw University '12
DePaul University '18

Tiamo KatsongaTiamo graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a minor in Anthropology. She enjoyed four years at this wonderful liberal arts university where she had many opportunities to explore her various interests in social justice, community involvement and travel. She was able to intern with organization such as the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT). She was an active member in organizations such as International Student Association, World Association of Musicians Instrumentalists and Dancers (WAMIDAN) and Kappa Kappa Gamma. Through DePauw, Tiamo had the opportunity to travel within the United States and abroad. She did a Winter Term in Service in the Philippines and spent a semester abroad in Geneva, Switzerland with the School for International Training (SIT).

Upon graduation, Tiamo enrolled at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Child Psychology. She is currently a first year student simultaneously doing course work and research. She is working on the Cities Project that aims at doing research with and developing interventions for inner city youth. The project looks closely at the causes and mediators of stress and depression in school aged children living in low-income communities.

Tiamo's personal research interests include working with women and children in vulnerable populations such as refugees and post-war civilians in African nations. She looks forward to a career of research and practice in mental health among women and children that are survivors of war, near her home country of Malawi.

Felix Zungwala Gondwe
St. Lawrence University '14

Felix Zungwala Gondwe Felix was born and raised in the warm heart of Africa, Malawi and he is the last born in a family of seven. He has three brothers and three sisters. He did his high school education at Likuni Boys' Secondary School. He is attending St. Lawrence University. Outside class, he spends his time playing basketball, chess, video games and if it's none of these, he is around friends, cracking jokes. He also has a passion of traveling and seeing new places.

He is a Computer Science and Economics double major, and hopes to integrate these majors and use the connection to implement something that will positively impact his family, community and country.

"The world is faced with many problems, and I want to be part of the solution even if it means going an extra mile to help heal the world problems. I believe that living is connected to giving hence I find joy in service of others. So I always strive to do the best in everything."

Before he came to the US, he volunteered at an orphanage as a teacher, where he reached out to kids with a vivid voice of love, faith and hope. This experience continues to have an impact in his life; he often spend time thinking of the orphans, especially the street kids. His life will not be at peace so long as many kids still live in dire situations.

Felix's experience in the US so far has been incredible and challenging. He loves getting into "fire and come out pure like gold than get burnt" experience, embracing the words of Hellen Keller, who said, "Life is a daring adventure or nothing."

His American friend, Kimberly Guillen once told him, "When you travel, you learn to appreciate more ideas and gain experiences that may enrich your life," for Felix being in the United States goes beyond getting a degree, he hopes to develop into versatile individual.

Allan Innocent Kawala
Gettysburg College '13

Allan Innocent KawalaAllan was born and grew up in Lilongwe, Malawi, the warm heart of Africa. Since elementary school days, he has always been a good student and his mother has always been instrumental, giving him all the necessary support that he does well in all his academic work. After high School, he went to the medical school in Malawi and was there for two years, 2006 and 2007, but unfortunately, things did work out for him.

In 2008, he joined USAP and was part of an elite group of highly talented Malawian students. Allan applied Early Decision 1 to Gettysburg College and got accepted with full financial aid.

Since joining Gettysburg College, Allan has enjoyed each moment in this historic town. He has found the people to be very welcoming, and that has helped a great deal, transitioning into this new environment. Allan, a major in sociology, has had amazing experiences, both inside and outside the classroom. His professors are always pushing him to explore new things, and never to let his personal standards get in the way of understanding the ever-changing world.

One of amazing aspects of being at a liberal arts institution is the close relationships that students have with their professors, and he enjoy the deep and personal relationships that he has with his professors, especially those in the Sociology department.

In his freshman year, Allan worked as a research assistant for a Political Science professor writing a book about development of the White House staff and how President Obama is using the staff. Currently, he works as a Leadership mentor with Garthwait Leadership Center, a newly established center for leadership development at Gettysburg College. Also, he works as a Program Assistant with Eisenhower Institute and as an Admissions Student Program Coordinator in the Admissions Office.

Outside class, Allan is an active member of DiscipleMakers Christian Fellowship, Youth Action Africa Gettysburg chapter and Toastmasters Club. Off-campus, he volunteers at a local church as an Advisor to Middle School Fellowship and his role is to ensure that every child within the group feel valued and as an integral part of the church family. In spring of 2010, he helped and participated in a thirty hour famine, a World Vision drive, in which the middle schoolers joined other students around the world in raising funds that helped plant 3,800 fruit trees in Chikwina – Mpamba village, Malawi.

Upon graduation from Gettysburg College, Allan hopes to pursue a Master's degree in either Social Work and Humanitarian Action or Public Policy.

Tiwonge Kanyanda
Cornell University '14

Tiwonge KanyandaTiwonge's encounter with diversity began at a young age, as she grew up in the various regions across the Warm Heart of Africa. As the youngest child in her family, her footsteps were largely predetermined; her brothers had set the achievement bar quite high. She grew up with the passion to explain behavior with a scientific lens which eventually drew her to majors in social sciences. Currently she is pursuing an independent Interdisciplinary Studies major (concentrations in Africana Studies and Nutrition) with a minor in Global Health at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Apart from academics, she is the Director of Social Outreach for COAS (Coalition of Pan African Scholars), Peer Advisor and Ambassador for the College of Arts and Sciences, and an active member of Biology Scholars Program (BSP), Campus Crusade for Christ and International Students Association (ISAA). Currently she is the only Ambassador for Malawi to One Young World, a global leadership summit for young leaders to address global issues.

She is an aspiring Health Policy maker who believes the destiny of the African continent lies with the Sons and Daughters of Africa. She gets encouraged by her fellow Africans in the Harambe Endeavour Alliance who have set out to change the world. In the next few years, she hopes to pursue degrees in Public Policy and International Nutrition and eventually concentrate on a career that improves maternal and child health.

Tiwonge is thankful to USAP and Cornell for the endless opportunities to redefine her single story.

Vernon Zidana
College of Wooster '14

Vernon ZidanaBorn and raised in Blantyre city, Malawi, Vernon is the last born son in his family. He attended Njamba Secondary School, a local public school in Blantyre city Malawi.

Vernon heard about USAP through the word of mouth. Despite that the program was offered in another city, the capital city of Malawi (Lilongwe) which was far from where he lived, this didn't stop Vernon. He did as much as he could to find more information about the program and then he applied for it.

After getting accepted into the program he lived in Lilongwe for a month to attend the USAP workshop then he returned back to Blantyre to track down his teachers and to get academic transcripts from his school. Through the USAP college application process, he lived in Blantyre and would travel to Lilongwe at the end of every month to attend USAP meetings and also to work on the college applications with his fellow USAP students.

In December 2009 he was accepted to study at The College of Wooster. Before leaving Malawi, he volunteered at the advising center to assist the new USAP students with their college applications. Now he continues to give back to USAP by mentoring at least two USAP students.

Vernon is pursuing an Economics degree. During his spare time he participates in a number of extracurricular on campus and also works for the college of Wooster's Office of Information Technology.

Limbani Kamanga
College of Wooster '15

Limbani KamangaLimbani got his Malawi School Certificate of Education at Chisomo Private Secondary School located in the heart of Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi. Having gone to a number of unpopular schools throughout both his primary and secondary school levels, it is only hope and determination that kept Limbani going.

Calm and succinct, Limbani has undying passion in global issues that relate to Africa. Limbani is always saddened with the economic and technological gap (just to mention a few) that lies between Africa and the rest of the world. Why should Africa be "100 years behind the Western world?" Much as most of the blame for African chronic poverty is vested on the 'opportunist' west (colonialism & neocolonialism), Limbani believes that the solution for this predicament lies within Africans, especially among the modern generation. Limbani draws inspiration from Marcus Garvey's saying: "How dare anyone tell us that Africa cannot be redeemed, when we have 400,000,000 men and women with warm blood coursing through their veins? The power that holds Africa is not divine"

At the College of Wooster, Limbani is looking forward to major in International Relations, with an economics concentration, and probably minor in History. In his free time, Limbani is a diehard soccer fanatic. It is not wrong to assert that his casual life is centered on soccer - both playing and watching. By the way he jokingly believes that, instead of blood, Arsenal FC runs through his veins.

Ernest Chakwera
Arizona State University '17

Ernest ChakweraBorn and raised in the central region of Malawi, Lilongwe and Dedza in particular, Ernest Chakwera is a second born child in a family of five. He did his primary school at Bunda Primary school, grade 1 through 7, and finished his 8th grade at Dedza Christian Primary School. As a determined young boy who never gave up, Ernest was selected to Umbwi Secondary School where he got his Junior Certificate of Education in 2008 and Malawi School Certificate of Education in 2010. At school, he participated in chess, volleyball and other different Christian organizations such as SCOM and CCAPSO. On his graduation day, Ernest was the second outstanding student of the year.

After graduating from high school, Ernest joined Mkhumbu Arts Theater and volunteered as an adult literacy teacher at House of Hope (HOH). He also initiated writing and reading programs for the youth at HOH. In 2012, he joined USAP as he always wanted to study at a US colleges. Ernest got admitted at Arizona State University as a MasterCard Scholar majoring in Women and Gender Studies and Political Science.

"My future looks bright and I cannot wait to see what will come out of my experiences and lessons and the impact I am going to have in my country."

Vitowe Mkandawire
Bryn Mawr '17

Vitowe MkandawireVitowe Mkandawire, born and raised in the commercial city of Blantyre, Malawi, the warm heart of Africa, is the last born in a family of two girls. A 2011 alumni of Stella Maris Girls Secondary School, one of the best national high schools in Malawi, she was never an average student. Vitowe was an active campus community member, involved in student government, community service, and student clubs. As Anti-AIDS club president, she played a pivotal role in helping the school educate students on the impact of HIV and AIDS and their (students) role in the "Stop AIDS, Keep the Promise" campaign.

Ever since primary school, Vitowe had always been enthusiastic and appreciative of life. She strives to daily live ubuntu or umunthu philosophy, which simply means the measure of humanity or "I am because they are." Even with the chaotic and complex nature of the world, Vitowe still finds good and hope in humanity. Vitowe believes strongly in shaping and defining her experiences and always stands ready to go against the grain. She is never afraid to try new experiences and unchartered paths, always willing to learn of and expose herself to new cultures, traditions, and ideas. Understanding that learning is a reciprocal process, Vitowe is as willing to share her cultural heritage and life background as she is to gaining new knowledge.

Growing up, she always dreamed of studying in the United States at some point in her life, and this for her remained an unrealistic dream. Vitowe did not see how her mother could afford to cover the cost, which could enable her to study at a US College. However, her 2012 selection into the distinguished United States Student Achievers Program (USAP) kept her dream alive.

Vitowe gives thanks and praise to Jehovah for the blessing. God placed necessary people in her life to help turn a dream into a living reality. She hopes to study Economics and of course, make the most of her experiences at Bryn Mawr College. Go Mawrter!

Maurice Phiri
Gettysburg College '17

Maurice PhiriMaurice was born in 1994 after his parents separated and was raised by a single mother who has always helped him figure out his true value in life. When Maurice was in the sixth grade he took the eighth grade National examinations and skipped straight to grade nine at Marist Secondary School- one of the top secondary schools in Malawi. There, he suffered the pressure of having skipped a grade and in grade eleven he was withdrawn for his poor performance in Maths and Physical science. Consequently, he decided to repeat the eleventh grade at St John Bosco Secondary School.

Maurice's inspiration was drawn from Dr Benjamin Carson's book "Think Big"- the memoir of a boy who went from class dummy to a brilliant paediatric neurosurgeon. "Dr Ben Carson's "Think Big" philosophy gave me hope, as well as a "can-do" spirit. I adopted it and applied it to my own life. Before long, failure became history in his life. He started acing Maths and Physical Science with distinctions and even took the challenge to study additional Mathematics -a challenging subject a few students in Malawi attempt to learn in secondary school. He also emerged as the third top student at his school on the Secondary school leaving national exam.

The "Think Big" Philosophy did not only work out for Maurice in the classroom. During his eleventh and twelfth grade at St John Bosco, he was elected as the deputy School Library Prefect, Class representative and Writers' Club treasure. After Secondary school, he volunteered with Malawi Red Cross Society and also worked for UNHCR as a Verification Clerk during a two week (April 09 – 20) Verification exercise at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa, Malawi. He also worked for Education USA as an assistant teacher for five weeks in 2012 and three weeks in 2013.

In late April 2012, He teamed up with a friend and started a Christian Hip Hop group called R.Eight:35 which is based on a bible verse Romans 8:35. In Mid-June they released a pre-album called "The Reunion Mix tape," which was a success. It was featured on a Gospel urban show on 1 Africa Christian Radio from South Africa--a program that is syndicated on thirty radio stations in different parts of Africa. Since the release of the pre-album, they have hosted a youth concert and have been performing at different events. They even had a prison ministry and visited Kachere Juvenile Prison giving words of hope and encouragement besides giving inspirational entertainment to the Kachere inmates.

If you ask Maurice, his secret to success he will simply reply "I am a product of God's grace". At the moment he is considering studying Economics and Computer Science at Gettysburg College. His principal dream is to be an influential entrepreneur and make a positive impact in his society.

John Tengatenga
Michigan State University '17

John TengatengaJohn Tengatenga is a first born in family of two boys and two girls. He was born and raised in Lilongwe, the heart of Malawi. "Being a first born has always been an inspiration for John to work hard as he tried to set an example that his siblings should emulate". He did high school at Mkomachi Secondary School where he was a Deputy Head Boy and finished his high school education at Mkwichi Secondary School where he graduated as best student of the year, class of 2011. He had a dream of studying abroad and didn't hesitate to apply for USAP class of 2012. John found Michigan State University to be his dream school and could not wait to apply to it. Thanks to the MasterCard Foundation that dream came true as he was offered a full scholarship to study International Relations at James Madison College.

John spends his free time playing Bawo, visiting friends, telling jokes and watching talk shows. He is excited for all the experiences he will have at MSU and can not wait to see what he can bring back to Malawi.

James Tayali
UC Berkeley '17

James TayaliJames Tayali was born in a family of four in Blantyre, Malawi. Unfortunately James lost both his parents, a situation that led him to have financial and education support problems. He grew up with his uncle at Moyale Barracks in Mzuzu. He finished his primary education at St. Annes primary school and was selected to Army Secondary School in Blantyre where he did his high school.

James left a mark at Army Secondary School in sports, religious organizations, academic clubs and music. Outside class, James is found playing soccer, chess and hockey besides singing in church choirs and talent performances. He served as a chairperson of the Math and Science Club and Church of Central African Presbyterian Students Organization. He also loves to participate in class discussions, giving tutorials to other students and advising others on health and personal issues. After High school he volunteered at Eagles Wings Ministries as a personal assistant to a medical missionary. He assisted the doctor in giving free medical services and preaching the word of God to the people.

James joined the USAP family in 2012. He was awarded the MasterCard Foundation Scholarship at UC Berkeley. He plans to purse a major in public health with the intention of using his degree as a tool to help in improving the health of Malawians.

"I am not moved by hard situations. I take my challenges as my stepping stones to pave my way to the future. Whether I pass through thin and thick, my courage to do great will always carry me forward. It is all about adding more effort to your passion to make things happen." said James.

Mellina Chinkhondo
Alabama State University '17

Mellina ChinkhondoMellina was born and grew up in Mchinji district in the central region of Malawi, the warm heart of Africa. She is the fourth born in a family of five. Graduating from Guilleme Girls' Primary School, she was selected to Ludzi Girls' Secondary School, the best Girls' secondary school in Malawi. No sooner was she enrolled at Ludzi than she was made a class president. She went on holding leadership positions that ranged from both classroom and outside. She was made the school' deputy head girl, was director of Music in the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Students Organization. She held secretarial position in both Wildlife and Debate clubs. Not forgetting her community, Mellina has been volunteering at Dzenza Community Hospital. She was among the top competitive students at Ludzi; she was actually one of the best. Up on graduation, she was awarded as the best student in English and History.

She enjoys reading all kinds of books, and as well writing short stories. She spends most of her free time writing and listening to Gospel songs. Has a dream of becoming Malawi's Britt Nicole as she says Britt's music touches her soul. She is a fan of easy video games and enjoys browsing stuff on the internet. She loves her daily diaries too. Mellina is not good at sports but she enjoys volleyball.

Mellina got in USAP 2012 after her curiosity of studying abroad. She learnt about the USAP program from a friend. She has burning desire of seeing Malawi emerge out of its failed past, and after a successful application, she is attending Alabama State University on a full scholarship. She will major in economics aiming at improving the economic status of Malawi. She is as well planning to minor in Music, designing and modeling. In her academic endeavor in the US, Mellina is fully aware that her education will bring much light to people's lives.

'I have so many dreams, but am more than just a dreamer. I am not afraid because I dream in action! My secret is, I make my passion a hobby, and it never lets me down.'

Felix Ludzu
Alabama State University '17

Felix LudzuFelix Ludzu was born and raised in a family of eight, in which he is the last born, in Kasungu, Malawi. He graduated from Double Vision Boys Secondary School and he was the top student among the graduating students in the year of 2011. Felix has been driven through his education by the "can do all things that can be done" spirit that he adopted from his father. His father did not have anyone in his family to fund his secondary and college education but he took the initiative and worked during holidays to pay for his school fees.

Felix had a dream to study abroad and he usually says that God met him at the point of his need through USAP in 2012. He is enrolled at Alabama State University majoring in Computer Information Systems 17'. When you ask him his driving fuel in his life he shall say "I dedicate all I do to God, which is if I do good God receives the glory and if I fail he still receives the glory for the gift of life that has made me at least to try. I received the impartation of Philippians 4:13 spirit."

Wambali Nkhwazi
Michigan State University '17

Wambali NkhwaziBorn in a family of six children, Wambali is the only son of Richard and Caroline Nkhwazi. Wambali was raised in out skirts of Lilongwe city a place known as Likuni, Wambali spent eight years of his primary school at three different schools and was later selected to Chinsapo Secondary from Kakule Primary School.

A reality check for him was when he was at Likuni Boys Night School where he spent his last two years of secondary school. It was here where he realized "There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs." This mentality was the one that saw him through his academics.

Wambali’s hard work led him to be the best student in Biology in both night and day schools. His hard work payed off when he graduated with distinctions in Biology, Mathematics, Geography and Social Studies on the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) and became the first person from a night school to be selected for the most competitive United States Achievers Program (USAP).

Wambali's passion for children had always made him one of the most unique and fascinating among his peers and it has always been his dream to become a pediatrician. His concern being that despite the heavy dependence on Agriculture by most African countries, tend to neglect the Health of Women and Children.

Thanks to the MasterCard Foundation Scholarship for setting him on the path to achieve his goals. Wambali plans to study Nutritional Science Premed at Michigan State University.

Khumbolane Kaluah
Bennington College '17

Khumbolane KaluahKhumbolane is the last born son of Peter and Ruth Kaluah. He went to St. Maria Garrett primary school in Nkhata-bay from where he was selected to St. Augustine community day secondary school where he did his form one and two and later transferred to Luwinga secondary school where he finished his secondary education. No sooner had he finished his senior class than he found future inviting. A good name is sooner lost than won, however, his status has risen and grown so big over the months especially after being decorated with one of the fine scholarship to Bennington College in USA. Today, he is one of his community's sensation with most of his recent achievements being the household song.

To begin with, khumbolane saw education as an instrument for forging his promising future. It began when he was in his senior class at the above mentioned institution following the gross of misinterpretation and a problem to read between lines of how education had failed the African culture since its birth in the continent. Even after he had accomplished his senior class he struggled to present an authentic interpretation of the western education to the African way of life to his fellow USAP students and also to demonstrate how African culture has struggled to jell with education. The climax of his cultural commitment was vividly manifested in 2013 when together with Wambali Nkhwazi and Innocent Mtegha wrote an essay exposing and demonstrating the African acceptance to the education and its values. Among others things mentioned in the context were cultural values and believes against modernization. He had worked tirelessly to this cause with the Ungweru youth Organization to the good of the society barely a month after his completion of high school within Mzuzu vicinity.

At the level of cultural commitment at Luwinga, Khumbolane should however, be remembered for what he did in his formative years. Even though a number of the cultural achievements were slightly reversed in the subsequent years. A solid foundation that he set for the Luwinga in the past four years concealed all the cultural cracks the school would have displayed.

Though, Khumboh spent the best part of his life in raining cats and dogs, he however, have had a number of happy moments in recent times to cherish and the one that comes to mind now is June 6 2012 when he scored 98% in biology mock exam breaking the record that had lived at Luwinga secondary school since its birth. Despite happy moments Challenges have not spared khumboh's life. Over time he grown to view challenges as part of life and so will always be there. Instead of viewing them as setbacks, he view them as the opportunity for one to show one's resilience and strength and prove that you are bigger than challenges that you face. Like any other person, Khumbolane had also gone through very low moments, for instance, the day he lost grandmother in 2008 was very hard for him. She died about two weeks after his primary school leaving exams results were out. He got another moment in his life and lost someone so dear a few days later.

Lastly, Khumboh is quick to mention and thank God and people who had been predominant to his achievements, the likes of Kondwani Banda, Uncle Limbani, Martin Kanjadza, my teachers and my fellow USAP students of 2013 for their love, care and support to him, may good lord bless them profusely.

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