Bringing It Home

13 May 2015

Mugazambi.jpgSabastian Mugazambi ’17 feels like a kid in a candy store these days.

If he wanted to use a computer in Harare, Zimbabwe, his only option was an Internet café. There was no opportunity to educate himself further in the technology—be it coding, programming, or anything resembling a career path in computer science.

“There was a gap that I managed to cross, and you can’t do it without exposure to the technologies in the first world,” Mugazambi says. “It pushes me every day to tap into the resources here.”

Another thing he’s learned at Carleton: Don’t keep what you’ve learned to yourself. Armed with a newfound passion for computers, Mugazambi is determined to help kids in his home country get started in programming and coding at an early age. Few of those children will get the same opportunity he’s had to study in America.

A standout student in Zimbabwe and member of the EducationUSA achievement program run by the American embassy, Mugazambi had his sights set on studying overseas. But he knew his that securing a scholarship would be a challenge. American colleges are expensive and full scholarships hard to come by.

A single image of Skinner Memorial Chapel on a recruitment poster inspired Mugazambi to explore Carleton. When he asked his adviser about the prospects for aid, he was told that there wasn’t much of a precedent for African students. That only emboldened him. “It made me say, ‘OK, I really want to go there,” Mugazambi says.

He ended up receiving the Kellogg Scholarship, which covers full tuition at Carleton for non-U.S. citizens. With limited resources for international students, a four-year award like Kellogg is available to only two or three students in a given class.

Mugazambi knows he’s fortunate. But he also knows that fortune isn’t random. He had to picture Skinner Memorial Chapel as more than just an image on a poster. It had to become a tangible goal. “Zimbabwe builds limits and says, ‘This is how far you can go.’ You have to dream beyond those limits,” he says. “You have to feel like you have bigger things to achieve.”

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