Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Beginning Of My Change-Making Journey by Fatu Kaba

It was once said by Leo Tzu that “the journey of a thousand mile begins with one step.” As I arrived at the Tema International School in Ghana, I was excited not only because it was my first official trip out of my home country, but my life was also about to make the greatest turn. The turn, full of amazing and wonderful people, gave me a life-changing experience that was yet to stay. Interestingly, every single day brought an amazing life lesson, gained either from the faculties and peers. Being in a mixture of about 100 students from about 28 different countries was beyond fascinating to explore. YYAS was not just an ordinary academic and leadership program, but a program that vividly exposes Africa's next breed of change leaders to opportunities around the globe. Participating in YYAS challenges a person to grow in almost all sectors of leadership, personal and academic experiences.

Sometimes we think we are the best among our peers until we happen to be placed among others who are as brilliant as we are, or sometimes more than we anticipate of them. Then, we become compelled to leave our comfort zone in order to have our ideas challenged so we can learn and grow. It felt amazing attending different workshops and discussion sessions with my fellow young Africans, who brought different experiences even beyond my imagination.

Academically, YYAS was very impactful. I had to do more research and watch my arguments as my surroundings were filled with brilliant minds who were always willing to challenge my ideas. Interestingly, every time a faculty or staff member asked a question, I always saw more than 50 confident hands who were as eager as I was to share their knowledge and experience. Many days, I ended dropping my hands because the speaker could not afford to recognize all the hands being raised.

YYAS has different aspects, like University guidance (learning how to apply to schools abroad), seminars, workshops, SAT Preparation, and meeting with different admission officers from top ranking universities around the world.

Some of those activities were not as ordinary as they may sound. These were activities that gave us insight into real-world lessons, and one of the most fascinating activities were the enrichment activities, which was done mostly in the forms of games. These activities taught me important lessons that I have always referenced, no matter the time or place. These activities sent different valuable messages that impacted my life by changing my mindset about my own continent, Africa.

One of the enrichment activities that stuck out for me was a game that required us to be divided into a team of two in order to cross an imaginary river full of alligators. In order to cross this river, a team has to use a limited number of paper plates. At first, when we heard the words team and game, we did not consider the idea of teamwork as our first instinct was all about winning the other team. Unfortunately for the first time, we (especially my team) started losing even before beginning as we were already shouting and jumping into the game without a plan, no team organization, strategy, and mostly no cooperation. The first game was discarded and we were told to play and forget the idea of winning, cooperate as a team and see what changing the mindset would help us to progress in the game. Changing the mindset from just winning to cooperation and not competition enhanced the beauty of the game for us all; it felt like a miracle. Even though my team lost the game, but we went further than we did for the first time and could have done more if we mastered the skills of teamwork. Through this game, I learn the importance of teamwork and accepting feedback. I understood that for a team to be successful, everyone needs to cooperate; it is not all about winning; sometimes it is more about togetherness. Through the games, I realized that for Africa to move forward, Africans need to corporate and not compete. Over the past times, all we have ever done is see our fellow African/African countries as competitors and not brothers/sisters who are supposed to care for each other. We might have differences, but it is our diversity that makes us unique and distinguishes us from the rest of the world. I also understood that no matter how different we are, we should always find common ground and focus on our goal as a team.

Lastly, one of the most beautiful parts of YYAS was that it was full of brilliant minds who are as passionate as I am for change. The program was full of students who are determined to serve as Africa’s next breed of change leaders. The fun was not just about meeting different people from different African countries, but the amazing experience involved sharing and learning from their own unique experiences. Every time I sat on the dining table, I was faced with someone from a country I have heard little or nothing about. There, I would learn new things from them and it was always exciting to share my experience with them. I interacted and learned about counties I barely hear about in Africa and their distinct cultures. More importantly, I got to make lifetime friends who I still interact with as though YYAS 2017 ended yesterday. Through YYAS, I got to embrace the diversity among Africans in Africa and I know that we would have to make the difference in Africa. I love YYAS for what it has done and continues to do for us as young leaders.

Friday, April 26, 2019

On the Path of Becoming a Global Change Marker: A Reflection of YYAS 2018

It all started when I saw a link in my email notifying me to check my application status. The first thing I saw was, “Congratulations! You have been accepted to participate in the YYAS 2018 program in Ghana. After my acceptance to the program, I began to meet other accepted participants on social media.

My first day at the Yale young African scholars program in Ghana was a day to remember. Early in the morning after having breakfast with peers, we took a practice SAT test. Although it was at first daunting, it was beneficial in informing us of our strengths and weakness with the test, and helped us to better prepare.

The lectures by professors and Yale students were so educative fascinating. Meeting world -renowned, professors with a common passion of enlightening the minds of young Africans towards becoming change makers and social transformers. Having the opportunity to meet those people has contributed to my perspective about the world of the 21st century. For example, I learned more about robotics and how its contributions to global development, as well as its challenges. The lecture entitled Democracy, Law and Politics confirmed my passion to study political science and become a teen leader in politics and activism.

This program has positively impacted my journey to become a change maker and a social transformer. Group discussions, workshops and group presentations were all crucial to my personal and intellectual growth. Participating in these activities have also helped me to become more confident in my public speaking skills.

Right now, I am able to benefit human society through what I learned from the Yale Young African Scholars Program. So, cadres, counterparts, comrades please after reading this blog post, please consider applying to YYAS!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Fun Work and Productive Fun at YYAS- Naomi DaCosta

Although I was indifferent a week to YYAS due to a stressful summer, I can now say that YYAS is an experience that has changed me forever.

My dorm at YYAS was amazing. I got to share a room with some of the most wonderful people ever. Whitney, Joy, Sam… They were unlike most people I have ever meet: they were fun. Although I spend a lot of time in school, I am not close to my dorm mates. But, my YYAS dorm mates challenged me to come out of my shell.

Since I’ve never been one for letting go of challenges, I made up my mind to try and have more fun. It’s been a decision I will never forget. I finally stopped worrying about almost everything: my test scores, my extracurricular activities and my future. They made me realize the importance of both productive work and fun social life.

My YYAS workshop was especially fun. We discussed almost everything from liberal arts college and the varying receptions of the amount of spice in the food served at YYAS (I thought it wasn't spicy). Although a huge part of YYAS is about learning interesting ideas, there is a lot more to the program. You form incredible bonds with your YYAS workshop family, other participants, and instructors (who are Yale students). At YYAS, you're not expected to simply listen, copy notes and nod, but rather express your own ideas, ask questions, and debate topics.

As a YYAS alum, I believe I have begun stepping out of my comfort zone. I believe I can strive and work to bring change to my continent. Maybe I won't be the nest Nelson Mandela but I do hope I will be able to change people's love. YYAS has been life-changing, and for that, I am very grateful.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Wishing I Could Relive YYAS- Asma Nabil

My name is Asmaa Nabil. I am from Egypt. I took part in the Yale Young African Scholars Program in Ghana at Tema International School last year!

I was surfing the internet when I first learnt about YYAS program as a program held by YALE University. As I curiously started my application and got to learn more about the program, I was amazed by the content and the way it’s conducted. I decided to apply to the program, and I was accepted. It was really a great feeling when I saw the acceptance mail by chance while downloading some materials.
At YYAS, meeting new people and making incredible friends meant so much as I was able to share my perspective and ideas with peers from all over Africa. I also had the opportunity to learn from my friends about their different educational systems, cultures, and languages. YYAS provided a very safe, sustainable, and conducive learning environment for all.

It was at YYAS that I gained so much knowledge on different topics such as ethics of leadership and the importance of working together to embrace diversity, as well as other interesting topics and discussions that were covered during the seminars.

The unique system we followed during the program enabled all of us to reach our goals for attending the program. The chance to express yourself and your opinion built a great relationship between instructors, participants and professors. Another amazing thing about the discussion sessions was that it was taught by Yale student instructors.

Looking at my calendar, it’s really hard to believe that months have rolled by since I returned from this prestigious program. The memories of the session are still very fresh in my mind. It seems like I was at TIS just yesterday! It will be very hard to forget the inspiring nature of YYAS program. Truly, if anything is worth reliving everything, it would be the YYAS program!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Becoming a YYAS Ambassador- Fuad Thabit

Great men always say, ‘If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade.’ My name is Fuad Thabit Thabit from Tanzania, age 18. I am in year 12 at Feza International School and I too got the wonderful opportunity of attending the 2018 YYAS program in Ghana.

When I first heard about the program from my friend, a 2017 alumnus of the program, I thought that this is an opportunity way out of my league and it wasn’t within my reach in a way that I wouldn’t fit in nor stand a chance to get through to the program but my friend encouraged me for he believed within every difficulty lies opportunity so I decided to take up the challenge and apply for the program and to my surprise I was among the few 300 out of 2000 students who got through to the program and it was one of the most eye-opening opportunities yet to come.

Before attending YYAS, I had no idea where to start with my college applications, it was like having a dream but not knowing what path to take to get to where you want to reach. It might have been just a ten-day program but for sure it had an impact of a lifetime for after the program not did I only believe that there was still a lot to do to utilize my full potential as an African scholar but also learn a lot about colleges and how to apply for colleges by coming across college students, admission officers and other college faculty members. Most importantly, I got the chance of meeting fellow African scholars with talents, dreams and visions I had not come across ever in my life and it is from these fellow scholars I learnt, together we can make impacts to the world like no other.

The best part of the program was the workshops we had every single day with one of the college students where we got to express what we had learnt throughout the day and challenges if any. We also got a personal touch on what life in college looks like and the kind of challenges the students face so as to be well prepared in pursuing our college studies. Things like College Board, The SAT and many more aspects were completely new to most of us and it was this program which opened our eyes and gave us an insight on what they mean and how to approach them. Not to mention the communication, academic, leadership and team-building skills we learnt from the program and the life-long priceless friendships and connections which serve as greater opportunities throughout the continent and overseas too and the enjoyable amusing moments we had. It did not end there, we were also paired with mentors who would guide us through our college application process.

Coming back to Tanzania, I was fuelled with a lot of energy to spread knowledge about this tremendous opportunity and increased my involvement in motivational talks as well as charity work to make a bigger difference in my community. YYAS is a blessing which was bestowed upon me and for that I would like to thank all the people involved in making it a success for me. I believe this is a blessing that other students out there deserve and that is why we take our time to spread this message to all you amazing students out there, now is your time, cherish this opportunity and shine like a newly born star. God bless YYAS, God bless Africa.

YYAS Family- Nkiinzi Cynthia Damalie

I was just wobbling down the stairs, and little did I know, it was my teacher sharing an idea which she thought would actually be beneficial to me. So, she ended up advising me to apply for the Yale Young African Scholars Program. Never did it cross my mind that this would create indelible memories, in my life and be a throbbing experience in my life. It cannot be left out, that this has been a gateway to so many other opportunities in my life. Truth be told, the application process was somewhat difficult owing to the fact that I had minimal computer knowledge and limited internet access, due to unavoidable circumstances, hence making it quite rigorous for me to fill the application form. My teacher and aunt often times kept supporting and motivating me. This steadily pushed me to finish my application to the best of my ability.

I was in uttermost shock, upon learning that I was among the lucky 300 students attending the programme. On arrival at Tema International School, the facilitators were so hospitable. I met different people from different cultures and backgrounds. The most exciting bit about the first day was the games we played. We made one big circle with each person's shoes in front of them.

Depending on the category of people that were called out, you had to run within the circle. It was so amazing and to sum it up was the rock, papers, scissors game. I emerged the champion.

There was a fixed and rigorous timetable of how the program was going to run for the remaining days. It included breakfast, lectures, SAT lessons, lunch, seminars, university guidance, enrichment program and so on. Hearing from the Yale faculty gave me a feel of how a university setting in the U.S.A is like. The time I enjoyed the most was workshop time. We were put in families comprising of about 8 scholars from the same region. My family leader was Mpiira.

During our first meeting, the atmosphere was quite tense but it became more and more interesting as the days went by. We became so close that there was a day we didn't meet as it was movie night and I almost cried.

It has been several months down the road ever since the program ended but it seems like it was just yesterday when I was in Ghana. In this experience, I got a chance to associate with outstanding students around the continent. We shared our goals and aspirations for the future and how we would cause the continent to grow. At some point, we were in the same place for those 10 days but right now we are spread out in different parts of the continent bringing about change in all possible ways. I believe we are inspiring others and being great leaders wherever we are.

In conclusion, the most exciting thing about this program is that it did not end after those ten days in TIS. We were given mentors to work with for the next twelve months. I cannot go without saying, the experience I had, is engraved somewhere within me, and being an ambassador would be the least thing I could ever do to show my sincere gratitude towards the program.

Nkiinzi Cynthia Damalie, a proud YYAS Alumna

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

My Exciting YYAS Adventure by Gabriel John Roberts

My experience with Yale Young African Scholars (YYAS) started with my application process which taught me to believe more in myself. I started filling my online application form with zeal but was discouraged when I got to the essay sections and I ignored my application for weeks. This was because even though I like to write, sharing my writings was a taboo for me. I thought my writings were not good enough to share and that my essays would kill my application. Thanks to my parents who pushed me to complete the application and prayed with me before I clicked the submission button. I was totally delighted when I learnt that my application was successful.

I was fortunate to travel with my dad to Accra, who was going there on a separate mission, during which I learnt what to do, as I was to return to Gambia on my own. I was picked up at the Kotoka International Airport by the YYAS team and driven to the Tema International School (TIS) where the program was held. The well-manicured scenery and spectacular sport facilities in the school were the first things that caught my attention and I am glad that I was later able to use the facilities and do some sports with my new friends. After registration, I discovered how blessed and honoured I was to be the first and only Gambian to attend the YYAS program. At that moment solitude crept in, but within minutes of socialising I felt at home.

During the program I met faculty members and current students of Yale University as well as secondary school students from across the African continent. The Yale team was excellent and amazing. I met awesome and exceptional students who are now my friends. I got to know friends like Nicole from Botswana, Elshaddai from Zimbabwe and Keneilwe from South Africa.

I have always had a keen interest in space and I always wonder what goes on outside our planet earth, so my expectations were high on my seminars of interest, which attracted my attention: ‘Searching for Earth’s Twin’, ‘How are Galaxies Formed’, ‘Impacts with Space Objects’ and ‘Tensegrities and our Body’, although the latter was not space-based. The seminars were very enlightening. I learnt about how galaxies are formed and about exoplanets, and how they are detected. But for me, the workshops were the highlights of because it was family time. We were each designated to a workshop family, where we felt more at home. We had open and frank discussions with each other. The workshops helped me to break out of my comfort zone and to socialise better. It gave me the confidence to stand and speak in public which I currently do during YYAS Alumni Ambassadors information sessions. We were also taught how to prepare for the SAT exams, write and send emails, online applications for university and how to write personal statements for university application. The talent night was a showcase of African’s rich diversity, heritage and culture. I also had the experience of living in Tema International boarding school on campus, a taste of university life.

YYAS 2018 was an exciting adventure for me. I had to stay in a hotel by myself for the first time a day after the YYAS program before travelling back home and I was able to enjoy Accra. Thanks to Grandma Helen, who took care of me during the day and took me to the airport the following day

I am currently preparing for my AS-Level examinations in June 2019 and my aim is to do my ‘A’ level examinations in June 2020. My medium term plan is to do my SAT and apply to university next year. My goal is to study engineering with majors in electronics and mechanics and create new devices to enhance space technology.

I really want other Gambian students to benefit from this life-transforming program. So to get other Gambian students to apply, I organised an information session and distributed YYAS 2019 flyers at my school with Professor Dagan Rossini and at Glory Baptist International High School and Apple Tree International High Schools.

There is so much more than what I wrote in this piece about the YYAS program. You can only find out and experience them for yourself if you, APPLY NOW!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Making Visions a Reality by Lwandile Jacobs

When one thinks of nine days, they automatically assume its insignificance in a broad manner. Nine days can simply be seen as a week and two days, or be seen as 216 hours, which sounds much better, or 12,960 minutes? 777,600 seconds? Or rather, instead of looking at it that way, why don’t we measure it according to the moments I shared within nine days in Tema, Ghana on the Yale Young African Scholars (YYAS) Program, which I gained so many memories in only nine days?

The beginning had already made me aware I was at a different place. I walked out of the plane covered in multiple layers of clothing, as I had left my home country, South Africa in the midst of its cold winter days. My choice of clothing automatically felt like a mistake. The thick warm air of Ghana welcomed me and I was excited to experience what I had anticipated for many months- The YYAS Program.

Throughout the flight I had begun creating friendships with other students from South Africa that I had not met before, and upon arrival began connecting with students from other countries within our continent. It was exciting as, having not travelled within the continent before, I met people who I could learn about their cultures, perspectives, and share the common motivation of wanting to reach for our dreams, and also use our abilities to aid in making positive shifts within the lives of others.

The program’s content definitely gave me more than I had expected. I had thought it would be merely a course that would give me information about the steps needed to aid in my university applications, but it was more than that. The YYAS team members had put a lot of effort in making it an experience in which we learned more than just about university applications. A significant thing about the program is how we as students got the ability to interact freely, and be as curious as we desired. The YYAS team was open to any questions we asked, within and out of the sessions, we got to sit with the lecturers who taught us about interesting topics such as the importance of language and Robotics during lunch and dinner, and had the rare privilege of having Admission officers of some of the top universities continentally and internationally join our program, to give us a view of what it’s like being in their position of accepting students into their universities. Our instructors, consisting of students currently studying at Yale University, formed a system of us students connecting to our peers and being able to gain a real perspective of what it’s like to apply and live in university.

A definite important aspect of the program, are the students I got to meet within my experience. I got to connect with people who come from different backgrounds and cultures, and understood what the core of us being able to bond so quickly was. We all were proud to share each other’s culture, from gestures as simple as tasting food from other places, such as Doro Doro small, spherical biscuits from Ethiopia, and my favorite-Teaching a student from Burkina Faso Zulu while he taught me French. We were all open to being each other’s friends, getting to know one another, unafraid to share our perspectives about things during settings such as dinner conversations and our discussion groups after our lectures. Within the nine days, I built very significant friendships, ones with individuals who were completely different from me but we shared similar values, such as of being ambitious, humble, and enthusiastic about life, go-getters, and aiming to join together and help one another as we journey through life and make our visions a reality.

What I learnt from this program, was how important it is for us in this world, to have important conversations about the issues that affect the wellbeing of many of us, and in that case, all of us. When we had discussion groups after every lecture, hearing opinions from people who come from a range of backgrounds broadened my perspective of the possible solutions to these issues, and the importance of individuals from different backgrounds uniting in working out in solving these issues. I also gained a lot of inspiration from the students themselves as they had acquired great achievements during the course of their high school careers. It has given me a drive to not limit myself, to keep working hard and improving in all I do.

If a student is interested in applying for YYAS, they should definitely apply. The program lets you connect with so many people, and grow in knowledge and grow as an individual as you learn from those you meet about things you might have not been aware of before. And also, be brave. The only way you’ll know if an opportunity is yours, is to try!

Friday, March 8, 2019

My Experience at YYAS 2018, by Nana Adwoa Abban

I am Nana Adwoa Abban. I'm 17 years of age and in my final year. I attended the Ghana session in 2018. I got accepted for the YYAS program during my second year of high school. I was browsing the internet and I found out that the YYAS application was open. I hesitated before applying because it was left with only two days to resume school and unfortunately, phones are not allowed in my school. I started the whole application and completed it on the second day.

I left for school and when I came back, saw a message that I had been accepted into the program. I was very happy.

The YYAS program has really helped me, both in my academic life and social life. It introduced me to so many things that I didn't know about. First of all, the cultural diversity of the countries made the program fun too. I got to learn about many cultures.

In my academic life, the seminars helped me. Some seminars that I took were entitled: "How to Think", "Automated Cars", "How to Get away with Lying" and "Sports and Philosophy". These seminars broadened my scope. I got more information about some things I didn't know. The university guidance session was also very useful as we were taught when, how and where we should apply for various universities. We were also given financial aid guidance and informed about the mistakes people always make when applying for universities so that we'll avoid them.

The SAT lessons helped me to practice my SAT. During the program, we wrote a practice SAT and that was my first. The discussion of the various parts and more practice have now made me better in SAT.

At the end of everyday, we broke out into our workshop groups. During workshop, we discussed all that happened during the day and our problems were addressed during that period. My workshop group is my family for the program. It helped me to socialise with the people in my workshop.

The Yale Young African Scholars program is a very good program. It enhances your academic skills and improves upon your social life as you get to meet people from all over the continent. I urge all of you eligible to apply for this program because it'll make a difference in your life as it has done to mine!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

My Awesome Experience at YYAS...Oh, What a Summer! By Christian Sunday

Christian (left) with some of his new friends from YYAS last year!

My name is Christian Sunday and I am from Nigeria. Fortunately, I participated in the Yale Young African Scholars Program that took place last year at Tema International School outside Accra, Ghana. Its a pleasure sharing my experience of this great summer.

Initially, I saw YYAS on Google as one of the educational opportunities for African students. I kept thinking about the program, so, I gave it a try. I was anxious as I struggled to complete the application on time but I finally submitted. Then, in late March I got an email. 

Lo and behold, I read my admission letter and was accepted into YYAS. I couldn't believe my eyes — I asked my brother to read as well just to be sure. Being accepted for such an opportunity as a secondary school student, having never applied for something like that before, was such a fabulous feeling.

Oh, what a summer! My YYAS experience was a mix of emotions. It was fun meeting new friends from all across the continent of Africa. I met outstanding students of high intelligent quotients and it was quite exhilarating sharing experiences with them. Thanks to Miss Esther, the SAT tutor. She teaches eloquently and I really benefited from her because before YYAS, I was not very familiar with SAT, but now feel much more confident in my test-taking abilities!

I also met different admission officers from diverse universities and institutions—not just in the United States, but around the world, and even in Africa. And, lest I forget, our cohort received university guidance by the Program Manager, Laura. I benefited greatly from learning what a Liberal Arts Curriculum means and various financial aid processes and statistics.

During the program, I attended lectures delivered by Yale University faculty members and seminars covering a wide range of interesting topics. I had one seminar taught by Lizzie who told us about 'Biological Barriers' and focused on gene modification. And how can I forget my workshop instructor Malaika?! She would always stop us from calling her 'Ma' since it makes her feel old, but my peers and I really look up to her. She even did YYAS herself when she was in high school!

I can't afford to exclude the fabulous talent show which was extremely interesting. The evening was filled with glamours of applauding performances. I performed Shaku-Shaku dance moves and people loved it! I also had fun doing the Ghanaian traditional dance moves and seeing another display of cultural heritage.

I will always remember when the program drew to a close and that moment when everyone began to cry because the panic of having to say goodbye began to set. As I'm reminded of this, there is a proverb that comes to mind which is, "A tree cannot make a forest." Together we are one, and I'm so happy for my summer experience.

To all my fellow Africans who have applied to the program — YYAS is REAL. Smile knowing that your application is complete. You've done the hard part already! As you wait for the results, just breathe and keep persevering. The sky is your limit! 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

My Experience at YYAS, by Damian Rantshabeng

Damian (center) with two new friends at YYAS 2018 in Rwanda.
The Yale Young African Scholars program (YYAS) is an intensive enrichment program aimed at equipping high school students with information and skills that will make their transition from high school to university as smooth as possible.

My application to the YYAS program was a typical mock application of how applying to university will actually feel like. I was required to write up multiple essays where I had to SHOW, not TELL, why I thought I deserved this opportunity amongst over 2,000 applicants from all over Africa. I was a bit doubtful about my chances of getting in but after putting together all the required documents, I submitted my application and was successful!

High school students go through a tough time deciding what step to take after their last year, such as knowing how to conduct their university research, if a gap year would be a wiser path to take to kind of discover their interests, and what to study in university. I applied to YYAS because I wanted these questions answered. I’d been to a lot of career guidance sessions and university expositions but I seemed to always come from them more confused about my future.

During the YYAS program I was given the privilege to interact with high school students from over thirty-seven countries across Africa. From fun games to educational discussions, I was always presented with an opportunity to learn something new. I love cultural exchanges and meeting new people so I made it a goal to engage in a conversation with at least two new people every day. We shared four different meals of the day at the school cafeteria of Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology in Gashora Village, Rwanda. There is nothing more fulfilling than sitting at a table with more than seven nationalities and still being able to relate on so many levels. I didn’t even have to explain my jokes! This made me realize that with all boarders and barriers down, we are one, which warmed my heart.

Over the course of eight days we took a diagnostic SAT practice test, attended lectures by highly qualified faculty of Yale University, received in depth overviews of university guidance and financial aid applications, and had our own exclusive university fair, to mention a few things. Our day-to-day schedule was comfortably strict, again, preparing us for university life. The informative lectures broadened my mind about so many things in Africa. Some of them titled, “The Future of Medical Imaging in Africa,” and “Desert Futures: Re-imagining the Sahara,” opened my eyes to the potential the African continent possesses. I now see more than I used to. 

Being surrounded by the brightest and most self-driven African high school students can only catalyze your personal growth as an individual. Not only was I challenged to always think outside the box but I was also presented with an environment to confidently express myself and my views. Before YYAS, it took a lot for me to stand up in front of a classroom of people but I saw myself stand up in front of over 100 students without hesitation. My name was even raised by multiple instructors as the perfect candidate to be the Master of Ceremony at the YYAS 2018 Talent show on the second last night of the program. I left YYAS feeling more certain about my future and what I’d like to do. I’ve gained skills on how to go about my university research and key factors to look out for. I know what admissions officers look for in personal statements, and standardized tests like the SAT no longer intimidate me.

If there is anything in this world that has made the biggest impact on my life, the Yale Young African Scholars Program is it. “A lot of opportunities in life are missed by many people because they are dressed in overalls and look like work,” Thomas A. Edison once said.  Never limit yourself to the fences of your comfort zone. I almost made the mistake of missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity because I thought I lacked enough knowledge about current affairs and achievements to make me stand out from the crowd, but the YYAS Team saw something in me. Whatever opportunity is thrown at you, I say DIVE IN! You have nothing to lose.