Reflections on YYAS 2023 programming

September 1, 2023

On July 30th, Yale Young African Scholars (YYAS) kicked off its 2023 programming with a seven-day, online session bringing together nearly 260 secondary school students representing 30 different African countries. YYAS is an intensive academic enrichment and college access program designed to help guide and prepare students as they transition to life after secondary school. The online sessions took place from July 30th to August 5th 2023 on Canvas and Zoom.

Additionally, after a four-year hiatus prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the YYAS team successfully relaunched both the residential program and the educators conference in Harare, Zimbabwe. The residential program brought together a close-knit cohort of 48 high achieving students that represented 20 different countries. During the program, students had a range of workshops and sessions, from topics on leadership development and university guidance to designing for impact and building 21st century skills. Developing a relevant curriculum for developing attitudes and building knowledge for navigating a complex world remains a consistent goal of the YYAS program.

YYAS participants across both programs engaged with university representatives while learning about the rigorous admissions and financial aid processes. We have the following universities joining us this year at YYAS 2023: Africa University, African Leadership University, Brock University, Columbia University, Emory University, Georgetown University in Qatar, Johns Hopkins University, Macalester College, Minerva University, Northwestern University, NYU Abu Dhabi, Oberlin College, Sciences Po, United States International University – Kenya, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, University of Toronto, and Yale University.

Additionally, during the residential program admissions representatives held an admissions fair for local students and led hands-on professional development workshops for over a dozen educators from secondary schools around Zimbabwe. Educators left the conference with more confidence to write strong letters of recommendation, support student essay writing, and effectively guide students through various admissions and financial aid processes at global universities.

Student participants also all took part in unique college-style seminars led by undergraduate and graduate students and connect with a diverse network of impact-driven peers from across Africa. Our seminar instructors, many of whom are African or of African descent themselves, come from a range of institutions including Yale, Columbia, Swarthmore, Tufts, and Michigan.

In addition to college-style seminars, students will attend interactive sessions led by prominent social innovators who work to bring greater equity to health care and education, industry leaders in Technology, Health, Entrepreneurship, Public Service and Creative Arts & Media, as well as YYAS alumni who have launched successful campaigns and programs in their home countries. These sessions range from exploring careers and sharing insights to learning about community impact and passing on best practices.

Our speakers across both programs included Janah Ncube (Crisis Action; incoming Yale World Fellow), Isaac Sesi (Sesi Technologies), Dr. Donaldson Conserve (Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University), Eno Inyangete (founding member of YYAS), Janette Yarwood (Director of Africa and the Middle East, Yale University), Evans Muzulu (YYAS alumnus; Meta), Leif Vangrinsven (Small Farms Cities Africa), Wambura Kimunyu (Eneza Education), Wendy Ngoin (YYAS alumna; C.A.S.H. on Campus), Bafokeng Nkone (YYAS alumnus, Disability is Not Inability; Special Olympics Lesotho), Rachel Nyaradzo Adams (Narachi Leadership), Joe Hundah (Media and Entertainment CEO), Eugene Kudzai Jamu (BruteForce Engineering), Dr. Constancia Mavodza, (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), Walter Gombarume (Uncommon), Thandi Ngwenya (Marketing and Business Development Executive), Dr. Panashe Chiurunge (Deep Analytics/University of Zimbabwe) and Bright Thulani (Mandela Washington Fellow).

In line with YYAS’s commitment to increasing accessibility to quality educational opportunities, the online YYAS program was offered free of change for all admitted students. Additionally, this year YYAS has benefited with data support from telecommunications companies to allow all students to access the online program regardless of financial background. We especially thank MTN Ghana and Econet Zimbabwe for their generous support.

In less than one month, new alumni will have the opportunity to receive mentorship from current university students, early career professionals, and older YYAS alumni who have successfully transitioned to universities across the globe. The program is designed to ensure students have access to a mentor who will help them refine their essay writing and guide their decisions about their applications to university and gap year programs globally. Alumni also have special opportunities such as volunteering, participating in the Social Impact Challenge, and other alumni programming in the years to come.

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Additionally, if you would like to give to the YYAS program you can do so by following this link. We plan on primarily using any funds raised to support the travel expenses of students from HALI (high achieving, low income) backgrounds to access the transformational residential program without financial barriers.