Reflections From a Grace Scholar: Phumuzile Moyo
The Grace Scholarship Program is the result of a partnership between PVF and a donor to provide the critical gap funding necessary for bright, low-income Zimbabwean students who are a part of the US Achievers Program (USAP) to study at US and European universities. We interview a few of the Grace Scholars each year to learn more about their background, experiences in college, and plans for the future. Below is our interview with Phumuzile Moyo, a junior at Kalamazoo College, majoring in Computer Science.
Tell us about your decision to study outside of your home country.
You know the excitement of every high school student who is either about to finish their ordinary level or their Advanced Level: I would say this excitement is at its peak on the last day of the exam when everyone is getting ready for the long holiday. My story is also the same, like every other child, I happily joined in the celebration of finishing my Ordinary Level. My excitement just like everyone else’s was enough to overshadow all the inner thoughts that I had every time I went to bed. I have made it this far, so what next? Will my father be able to fund for my Advanced Level? Of course, I knew the answer to the last question. The answer that kept me tossing and turning every other night, I had to do something. When the chance to apply for a STEM scholarship presented itself, I did not think twice about applying to it, this was the only way I could pursue my Advanced Level studies.
I made into A Level through this government scholarship, this time around I kept my ears open for any academic opportunities. I thought to myself, I had to start preparing for university opportunities and weighing out my options early because I knew that my father’s minitruck would not raise enough funds to support my family and pay for my university as well.
So, when our school counsellor announced to the lower six students about the chance to apply to the YYAS (Yale Young African Scholars) program that was open for all African students, I did not hesitate, so I applied, and I got in! I was with the group placed in Rwanda. This was the time when things became clear to me, that I had the chance to pursue my education-in the United States! At least now, I had something to think about, but the puzzle was still complicated. The preparation was an intense one to begin with, but I continued working with my school counsellor who since then had understood my financial problems and how those would hinder my chance to university. In my final year of high school, she called me to her office and told me about USAP program and handed me the application form. I must say in this application it felt like I was given the chance to pour my heart out especially about the limited opportunities for talented children in the rural areas. Decisions came in after we had been interviewed, and I had made it! This is when the application to the United States universities began. I had no idea I was going to make it possible up until I got accepted into Kalamazoo College. Getting into college has been the greatest gift life has granted me, especially as a first-generation college student. I am studying computer science with the hope of going back to my rural home to normalize computer literacy because I believe in this modern advancing society technology should be accessible to everyone.
Was it difficult transitioning to a different culture?
In most conversation with Zimbabwean students already in the US, the phrase ‘culture shock’ had always been part of the conversation but I was not really worried about it. But on my arrival, I began to slowly understand. Adapting to the place was a process that I had to go through, but I was happy to realize that I always had someone to help me in the process, starting from our International students’ advisor to Land-sea trip leaders to my peer Leaders. My transition in this place became more and more bearable because there were people that made Kalamazoo to feel like a community, and now I am glad to be part of that community.
What is your greatest accomplishment at school thus far?
My greatest accomplishment so far is being able to be part of the College Civic Engagement team that helps build the city of Kalamazoo through tutoring programs to the elderly. I am happy to be a tutor in this program because I believe I can give someone a chance to grow in their education just like I have been given the chance to grow in mine. Working alongside with instructors of this program, I am glad to learn new skills in interactive conservations with them. These have added strong values to my character and have helped me grow as a person.
How has the Grace Scholarship helped you pursue your goals?
Looking at the financial package that my college had awarded me I was grateful, but the gap that was left was enough to stop me from attending this college. Without Grace Scholarship covering the gap I can not think of any other way I would have made it into college, let alone the blessing to have enough time to study without thinking about my college tuition gap. I am truly grateful to Grace Scholarship for fulfilling my dream to get into an American college, attend classes without any financial worries, and giving me the chance to grow towards my dream and purpose. Now I have managed to kill the stereotype about the destiny of other girls in the rural areas and my confidence to make a positive change in my community has been boosted.