“My name is Nthambi Banda, from Zomba, Malawi. I am the second and last born in my family. I grew up with my elder sister upon losing both parents whist I was still in primary school. Despite many challenges, I successfully completed my primary school at a local government school, from where I was selected to go to a renowned all-boys secondary school. Life in secondary school was hard. I lacked basic amenities because my sister could not afford to support me on her own. However, the enduring dream to pull my family out of the deep pangs of poverty propelled me to work very hard in school. I graduated from secondary school in 2012 amongst the top 5 students in a class of 120. I could see my dream of changing my family slowly becoming a reality.
“Like any other high-achieving and ambitious young Malawian, I sat for public university entrance examinations in 2013. However, when the university entrance results were announced, contrary to my highest expectations, I was left out! It was one of the most painful moments I have ever experienced in my life. Knowing how expensive private universities and colleges in Malawi are, I knew that my sister could not afford to send me to any reputable institution of higher learning. My future looked shattered.
“While I was still in despair, my sister heard about Klesis Education Initiative, and connected me to Agnes Gogo Wizi, the founder. Through Klesis, I was introduced to international scholarship applications. However, I was skeptical. I was wondering if I could make it on the world stage after I had failed to make it locally. However, my mentors motivated me to work hard in the scholarship application.
“I targeted MasterCard Foundation partner universities, and I applied to various universities in the US and Canada. Through Klesis, a well-wisher paid for my Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam fee.
“Few months later, I was stunned to receive an email from Arizona State University (ASU) that I had been offered a full MasterCard Foundation scholarship to study at the University. It was unbelievable to me and I felt like I was just dreaming. I was humbled when I heard that I was the only Malawian student to join Arizona State that year.
“At ASU, I have grown in many ways than I cannot count. I am majoring in Public Health, with the dream of returning home to actively engage in wellness programs, in order to curtail chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases which have affected a lot of people in Malawi. I also want to support Malawian youth’s talents, especially those who sing. Thanks to Klesis Education Initiative and MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program for taking me this far.”