Wilton Mkwayi International Fellows Program
Wilton Mkwayi, a founding member of the Coalition’s Board of Directors, died in July 2004.
As one of the anti-apartheid leaders in South Africa, who spent 25 years in prison with Nelson Mandela, Wilton committed his life to improving the lives of the disenfranchised and marginalized. That is an admirable goal that is too often over looked in today’s world.
The Board of Directors of CELD created the Wilton Mkwayi International Fellows Program to bring learners from rural areas of South Africa to the U.S. to study.
Bongani Dlamini was the first Wilton Mkwayi International Fellow, arriving at Garrett College in western Maryland in August 2005.
He started as pre-engineering major at Garrett College and transferred to West Virginia University to enroll in their mining program in 2007. Bongani graduated from West Virginia University with degrees in Mining Engineering and Geology in 2010. He decided to go back to school for a masters degree.
He completed his graduate work at West Virginia University and received a Masters degree in mining engineering in May 2012. He extracted three professional papers from his master’s thesis — two were published in professional journals and one was presented at a professional conference.
In September 2012 he moved to Australia to start his professional career as a mining engineer. He is strategically located between one of the best beaches in Australia and the wine country.
Bongani was joined by the second Mkwayi Fellow, Unathi Mahlati in 2006. Unathi was enrolled in a pre-med program at Garrett College and transferred to Bucknell Univeristy to study neuro-biology. Unathi graduated from Bucknell University in 2010 with a major in neuro-biology.
She worked in New York City while preparing to apply to graduate school. Unathi completed her first year of graduate school in media studies at the New School in New York City. She is interested in understanding the impact media has on citizens — an important topic in South Africa. Unfortunately, she ran out of money and returned to South Africa to finish her masters degree.
The Coalition received its third Wilton Mkwayi International Fellow at Garrett College in August 2007. Her name is Andisiwe Sicwebu and she comes from Butterworth High School in the Transkei region of the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa.
In May 2009 Andisiwe graduated from Garrett College. She competed for and received a full scholarship to Bucknell University and enrolled in the Environmental Engineering program.
Andi completed her bachelor’s degree in engineering at Bucknell University in May 2012. She was enrolled in a five year program in Bucknell allowing her to complete her Masters degree in engineering in May 2013. She accepted a job with an international construction company in Newark, NJ.
The Coalition supported another Wilton Mkwayi International Fellow at Garrett College. Her name is Alice Abiya. She is from a small village, Douala, in Cameroon which is on the west coast of Africa.
As a young woman she attended a Nike sponsored basketball camp in her area. After participating in the camp for a couple of years she caught the eye of one of the instructors. This person represented a network of schools in the U.S. He recruited Alice to play high-school basketball as a junior at St. Ann’s in Charlottesville, Virginia. She transferred her senior year to play at St. Francis Academy in Baltimore, Maryland.
When she graduated from high school she was recruited to play basketball at Garrett College. CELD partnered with the College and others in the community and supported her while she attended Garrett College.
Alice graduated from Garrett College in August 2011. She was accepted to California University of Pennsylvania where she was a member of the women’s basketball team, ranked 5th in the nation at the time.
In spite of a number of hurdles confronting her, Alice Abiya successfully completed two years of study at California University of Pennsylvania. She majored in international studies with a concentration in international business. She also completed the requirements for two minors — one in Spanish and one in art. Alice received a full tuition scholarship from the University which was automatically renewed for her senior year because she attained a 2.9 GPA. She graduated with her class in May 2013.
The Coalition supported a new Wilton Mkwayi International Fellow at Garrett College in 2012. The young man’s name is Yannick Zanfack. He is from Camreroon and is on the men’s basketball team at Garrett College.
Yannick has been in the United States since April 2010. He attended high school in Hagerstown, Maryland before coming to Garrett College in September 2012. Yannick performed very well on his placement exams and is taking calculus, chemistry, physics and other core requirements. Based on his placement scores, Yannick started in the top 10 percent of the student body academically.
He started his studies in engineering, but switched to mathematics and science. He will be graduating from Garrett College in May 2014. He wants to transfer into a four year institution to get a BA in Petroleum Engineering and pursue his Basketball career.
CELD supports the Mkwayi fellows by paying for their housing during their two years at Garrett College. The College has created a parallel Mkwayi fellowship which covers full tuition and fees for Mkwayi fellows. Additional support for Bongani and Unathi has come from their high school in Butterworth, South Africa — the teachers in the school made donations to help cover the costs of studying in the U.S. Additional funds come from the community at large, Bongani and Unathi’s extended families, and sponsors like the DeBeers mining company in South Africa.
This has been an exceptionally successful program for the South African and other learners, their fellow students at the College and for the greater Garrett County community. The program has recently been expanded to support students, primarily from Africa, enrolled in the Department of African Studies at Howard University in Washington DC. With your continued support we hope to see many more Wilton Mkwayi International Fellows studying at Garrett College and Howard University.