Stella Ituze, 18, has become the first Rwandan to be awarded scholarships in 10 of the best universities in the world including four Ivy League colleges.
Ivy League colleges are a group of eight colleges and universities in the US renowned for their high academic standards and significant history. These schools were some of the earliest American institutions founded and they include Harvard in 1636, Yale in 1701, Penn in 1740, Princeton in 1746, Columbia in 1754, Brown in 1764, Dartmouth in 1769 and Cornell in 1865.
As of yesterday, Ituze had received the last email confirmation from the 10th college she applied in notifying her of the admission. She has been accepted and automatically awarded scholarships to four Ivy League colleges, one Ivy League plus college and five other universities in the United States.
The five Ivy League colleges include, Harvard University, Columbia University, Princeton University, Brown University and Stanford University (Ivy League plus college).
The other top universities she got accepted in include, Duke University, Williams College, Pomona College, Amherst College and Vanderbilt University.
“I applied with much faith and hope that getting admitted in such schools will give me an edge in being a problem solver; coming back home to be the leader in my community in so many ways,” Ituze told Sunday Times.
“But to tell you that I expected this number of admissions, I would be lying. Just like any other young girl, I dared to dream and my dream came true,” she added.
Ituze, a graduate of Gashora Girls Academy located in Bugesera district, is a daughter of a single mother, Venantie Kagoyire—who works as a Receptionist at Engen Petroleum company in Kigali.
She studied Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science in High school scoring 52 out of 73 aggregates in the 2016 national high school examinations.
Ituze, the second born of three, lost her father at the age of 10 and has since depended on her mother, explaining why she undoubtedly believes “there can’t be any other hero” in her life but her mother.
“I was not among the best performers in the country but scoring 52 aggregates coupled by several other factors including co-curricular activities, ACT Scores, and recommendations are some of things that American colleges look out for,” she said.
Ituze and her friend Darina Kamikazi are the only two of the 2016 High school graduates at Gashora Girls Academy who have been retained to tutor at her former school in ACT lessons (US’s college pre-selection tests).
“We are tutoring because we know something about ACT and we want to share it. Kamikazi and I had good ACT scores. I scored 29 out of a possible 36 and she (Kamikazi) scored 28, which I consider ‘pretty good’ for an international student. We are helping fellow sisters to pass too,” Ituze said.
Kamikazi, was not shocked to learn that her friend had been admitted in all the schools she applied in.
“Right from grade 10 (Senior four), she has possessed high-quality leadership skills, she is a great debater, a thinker and kind. She is someone who has always wanted to help fellow students and definitely such things count in life,” Kamikazi talks about Ituze.
Kamikazi has also been admitted at Princeton University, which is also among the Ivy League colleges
Ituze is an ardent debater and she thinks being part of the i-debate club at her school has propelled her to becoming a great thinker as well as helped her write good application letters to the colleges.
“In fact, almost all i-debate club members are the ones who go to the best colleges in the world. Even school leaders are debaters. We have one Angela Rangira, a former i-debate chairperson who joined Harvard University last year and here I am.
“It’s through arguments and disagreements that great ideas, solutions and leaderships are developed,” Ituze said.
Besides her mother’s role in her education journey, Ituze has only praises for her former secondary school, Gashora, which she believes has contributed 80 percent in transforming her into being accepted into the best colleges in the world.
Her dream is to create a virtual laboratory for poorly equipped schools.
“I have something that bothers me most and it has to do with the location of my school. We are near a high school (I don’t have to say its name) that is not as resourceful as Gashora. They also offer all the science subjects as we have and more but they do not have a laboratory yet they are expected to do practical exams during national examinations and compete with us or any other well-equipped schools.
There is an inequality in our academic experiences and I consider this as unfair competition. Even their teachers teach in French or Kinyarwanda and they have to translate content into English—a language they even don’t know. Since they have laptops through One Laptop per child programme, I hope to develop a virtual laboratory that such schools could use for science practical lessons,” Ituze said.