November 13, 2018

St. Kate's Student Named Rhodes Scholar Finalist

Maakwe Cumanzala, ’19, is an international student from Zimbabwe with a double major in economics and mathematics. She is a finalist for the Zimbabwe Rhodes Scholarship Program.

The Selection Committee for the Zimbabwe Rhodes Scholarship program has announced that a St. Catherine University student is a finalist for the 2019 program. Maakwe Cumanzala, ’19, is an international student from Zimbabwe with a double major in economics and mathematics.

“This is an extremely competitive award, so being named a finalist is a remarkable achievement” said Lynda Szymanski, Interim Provost and Professor of Psychology atSt. Catherine University. “Maakwe is an extraordinary student and campus leader. Faculty, staff, and alumnae recognized her potential and encouraged her to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship; it is a fabulous example of how we live our mission to educate women to lead and influence. We are proud of Maakwe, and we are thankful for all members of our community who have helped prepare her to be a competitive applicant.”

The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world. Administered by the Rhodes Trust in Oxford, the program offers fully-funded Scholarships each year for postgraduate study at the University of Oxford - one of the world’s leading universities.

Selection Committees for the Scholarships look for young leaders of outstanding intellect and character who are motivated to engage with global challenges, committed to the service of others and show promise of becoming value-driven, principled leaders for the world’s future. Among the traits committee members consider as they review applications:

  • academic excellence
  • energy to use your talents to the full (as demonstrated by mastery in areas such as sports, music, debate, dance, theatre, and artistic pursuits, particularly where teamwork is involved)
  • truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship
  • moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in fellow human beings.

Cumanzala has embraced several leadership opportunities while a student at St. Catherine University, including President of the International Students Organization, Peer Mentor with the Multicultural and International Programs and Services, co-President of the Economics Club, and a Transfer Orientation Coordinator. In her current role as the Student Senate President at St. Kate’s, Cumanzala is working with other student leaders to effectively advocate for inclusive change and empowerment of students on campus through student initiatives.

Cumanzala’s college career reflects her greater life goals. “I come from a small town - Binga, Zimbabwe. Growing up, I was exposed to the disparities that the Tonga people face - especially the women and young girls so I decided at a very young age that I wanted to bring about the economic empowerment of my tribe and all other minority people in the world. The first step is for me to receive a sound education,” Cumanzala explained.

Each finalist participates in an interview, to be held in Harare, Zimbabwe. If she is chosen to move forward as a Rhodes Scholar, Cumanzala intends to pursue an MPhil in Economics at the University of Oxford. She also hopes to collaborate and receive mentorship from the renowned professors in the Centre for the Study of African Economies

Following her Oxford studies, Cumanzala plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Development Economics, and establish an independent economics research lab in Zimbabwe to use data-driven evidence to inform policy.

“The Rhodes scholarship would offer me a unique opportunity to gain knowledge and skills to create theories that will be influential in setting domestic and international policies that bring about equality in the world,” said Cumanzala. “As a Rhodes Scholar, I would continue being an exemplary academic and leader to inspire minority girls to engage in higher education and claim their seat at the table.”

by Sarah Voigt