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Fulfilling my commitment to serve others on campus & at home – by Maureen Kalimba Isimbi

Fulfilling my commitment to serve others on campus & at home – by Maureen Kalimba Isimbi

​In Rwandan culture, it’s inappropriate to live for only one’s self. I’m thankful I learned this lesson early on because it’s helped me realize the incredible impact I can have not only as a leader on my campus but in my personal endeavors. As a sophomore at Tufts University, I’ve become more involved on campus and am dedicating my time to causes that are important to me. 
This year, I joined the Tufts Community Union Senate which is the university’s student government. I’m the International Community Senator, and I oversee the well-being of international students like myself. I was motivated to take the position because there are several challenges we face that aren’t limited to just language barriers. These challenges include: adjusting to the U.S. academic system, being financially unable to see family for four years, applying for CPT (Curricular Practical Training) and OPT (Optional Practical Training) positions and not receiving the appropriate compensation, and more.

PictureI was fortunate enough to meet Super Hollywood Agent Andrea Meigs at the Tufts Career Center.

​​​In my first term, I’ve taken on two projects that will help address some of these issues. One project involves establishing a social space on campus for international students so that they can have a safe space to discuss their challenges, support each other and share about their cultures. Additionally, I collaborate with the Tufts Career Center to improve the career options and resources available to international students. It’s an honor to represent and serve my campus’ international community, and I hope these two projects bring positive change.

PictureTiffany & I at the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference.

Outside of my leadership roles at Tufts University, I’m working on two personal projects that I was very driven to focus on this year. In March 2017, my friend Tiffany Addo and I heard the story of female genital mutilation (FGM) survivor Ms. Jaha Dukureh, and were deeply moved. We then applied to attend a conference at the Clinton Global Initiative University to learn how we could help eliminate FGM. Now, Tiffany and I are collaborating on a project to combat FGM in Nigeria and eventually all of Africa.


The NXP Foundation Student Achievement Award


Tufts Gordon Institute Montle Prize

My second project involves developing a mobile application called Kalimba that will connect Rwandan primary students to financial donors. I’ve always wanted every child in Africa to receive an education. In summer 2017, I came across a NXP Foundation competition through the Society of Women Engineers which required women in STEM to create a STEM related solution towards social impact. I competed and out of 10 amazing female STEM students, I came in second place! Later, I received the Tufts Gordon Institute Montle Prize for my idea.

In addition to my studies and improving my campus’ international community, I’ve learned that I’m a self-starter who wants to strengthen her leadership skills whenever possible. Through these projects, I hope to inspire other girls and youth in general to live not only for themselves but to serve their communities and help guide them toward a bright future for everyone.