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Lucy student Ntombizodwa Makuyana was on the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program panel.

Ntombizodwa Makuyana (Tombi), Lucy Cavendish PhD student and 2021 LucEnt winner, was invited to speak at the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program panel this past September. Tombi was a Mastercard Foundation Scholar at Arizona State University where she obtained a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry. She is now a PhD student in Biological Science at the University of Cambridge.

On 28th of September 2022, representatives from the Mastercard Foundation, and the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford gathered to welcome the first cohort of Mastercard Foundation Scholars. Tombi shares her thoughts on the event and the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program itself:

“It was an exhilarating moment for me as l am of African heritage and can testify to the possibilities that these new partnerships will create for the recipients of these opportunities. Having access to quality education at top institutions such as the University of Cambridge means access to great ideas, innovation and opportunities. It also means that young people from Africa can help forge the future by forming part of the mosaic of students at these prestigious institutions.

For many socioeconomically sidelined communities, accessibility means more than just proximity to opportunities but full immersion and participation. Over the past couple of years, there has been a serious movement towards providing more high-potential young people with access to education. This has been especially critical across the African continent, where there is a booming young population poised to be the highest globally by 2050.

Lack of early career transition support is a major barrier that prevents youth from achieving their full potential. The Scholars Program is the Mastercard Foundation's flagship education initiative that seeks to make access to learning opportunities a reality for diverse and talented young people with a demonstrated commitment to giving back to their communities. Through a network of universities and non-governmental organizations, the Mastercard Foundation’s Scholars Program ensures that high-potential students, especially those from marginalized communities, are equipped with the knowledge, capabilities, and networks they need to become the next generation of transformative African leaders. Since 2012, the Mastercrad Foundation Scholars Program has committed over 45,000 scholarships to students to pursue their education at top universities.The new cohort was filled with ideas and entrepreneurial projects which they anticipate doing. “With the University of Cambridge being a hub for innovation, learning and implementation of ideas, I am confident the new Mastercard Foundation Scholars will be transformed into great leaders who can solve the complex problems in Africa. My own journey has been a testament to this transformational

experience as I have received immense support building Shasha Networking, soft skills and a personal development platform with a mission to impact 5 million pre-university students across Africa. We’ve made a commitment to equip students with career research, leadership, and self-branding skills. The Program has produced 800+ trained young people, with a footprint of 15 countries across Africa. This effort has not gone unnoticed as we have been cited as ‘Smashing the glass ceiling for African students by the BBC.’ Such is the value of being part of a community such as ours at Cambridge and my journey as a Chief Impact Officer has been worthwhile.”


Group of people at event