Reflections From A Grace Scholar: Matthew Maramasaka
by Cayman Bentley, PVF’s Program and Communications Associate
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 Matthew Maramasaka, a freshman at Wilmington College.
Tell us about your decision to study outside of your home country.
“Studying outside of my home country, Zimbabwe, and very far away from the people I love the most thus my family was an enormous and frightening step for me. However, that was before I realized that in life, for one to be successful in this life one will need to take sacrifices. Sometimes these sacrifices might be overwhelming just like mine does sometimes but at the end of the day, they will be worth it. It’s now that I realize that a time was always going to come when I would be away from my family, learn how to deal with it, and learn to operate everything like budgeting and personal care without the eye of my mother on me. When I realized in High school that I wanted to study Agriculture, I told myself that I wanted advanced Agriculture education, and when an opportunity knocked on my door for me to travel to the United States of America for college at one of the best Agriculture schools in the USA. I welcomed and embraced the opportunity and here I am today, a freshman at Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio.”
Was it difficult transitioning to a different culture?
“When it comes to transitioning to a different culture, I won’t say I faced any challenges. The only challenge I might have faced for only the first week I was at Wilmington College was remembering people’s names (maybe a fun fact). I have three main reasons why I was able to adjust to a new environment and culture easily: 1) I am someone who I can refer to as sociable when necessary and by that I mean I ask questions even ones that might be silly. I ask about everything I do not know and everything I am not sure about. 2) This one is a result of the first one. Since I am a sociable person, I met friends who developed into a family (some of which I call brother, sister, and auntie). 3) I told myself to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. By that I mean I talked about everything, I did not limit myself or get scared to tell people what I was comfortable and uncomfortable with.”
What is your greatest accomplishment at school thus far?
“Accomplishments at school, I have managed to feel at home and I am never homesick. I have done a great job of staying above my social and academic life. Obtaining a GPA of 3.96 during the fall 2022 semester and being on the Dean’s list was a big accomplishment for me considering that I was still settling in, finding my people, and finding my places on campus. During the same 2022 fall semester, I was also able to join the cross-country team and I went to different meetings. According to my professors, not every international student does that, but I did it therefore, that is another accomplishment. Additionally, 2023 came with new and more accomplishments. I have managed to stay on top of my academics and also join several clubs. These include Honors Program, Westheimer Peace Symposium Committee, Agriculture Agronomy Club, and Tau Kappa Beta (TKB) fraternity.”
How has the Grace Scholarship helped you pursue your goals?
“I could not have made it to college without the assistance of the Grace Scholarship. My mom does not work and by that I mean there was nowhere I was going to get the financial aid to attend college in the USA or even in Zimbabwe (my home country). The goal now is to make the most of this one-time moment because like my mother always tells me, “fortune comes, but once in a man’s life.” What I will be and what I will do in the future, my now is going to decide that therefore, I am going to seize the moment in any way I can possible. In as much as the Grace Scholarship has saved a soul like mine, I hope to save two more in the future. “