North Central College student awarded Soros Fellowship for New Americans

Mar 25, 2013

North Central College senior Etienne Mashuli has been awarded a prestigious Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, which he will apply to graduate school. Mashuli is considering graduate programs at Yale University, the University of Notre Dame and Johns Hopkins University but his choice is undecided.

Mashuli, a political science major and economics minor, was born in Rwanda and is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. While a student at North Central, he co-founded Ubuntu In Action, an innovative project based on a deeply rooted African philosophy that promotes peace through education in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he lived after escaping the violence in Rwanda.

He is involved with the Oxfam Voice Project and is a contributor for The Mark, a Canadian foreign policy newspaper. He presented his scholarly work at North Central College’s Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research and was active in the College’s Model United Nations chapter. He completed his studies at North Central at the end of winter term 2013.

“Like so many of our North Central students, Etienne sees a deep connection between his academic work and his pursuit of social justice around the world,” says William Muck, assistant professor of political science, coordinator of global studies and co-author with Mashuli of an op-ed piece about corporate taxes and poverty. “His efforts, both inside and out of the classroom, stand as a powerful example of the dramatic change one individual can have.”

After escaping from Rwanda, Mashuli was educated in Kenya. He returned to Rwanda in 2005 and translated for missionaries from Village Baptist Church in Aurora, Ill. Church pastor Richard Howard helped Mashuli apply to North Central College. He arrived in the United States in January 2009.

In addition to his studies at North Central, Mashuli was selected to participate in a research program with political science professor Allen Hicken at The Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan, where he presented work titled “Electoral Violence.” He participated in another summer research program at Michigan State University under the noted expert on democracy and Nigerian feminist, Dr. Rita Kiki Edozie.

“I doubt I would have attained the Soros without the close mentoring I received at North Central,” Mashuli says. “In particular, Dr. William Muck took a keen interest in me since my arrival four years ago. He has continued to believe in me and guide me very closely--a privilege that is only attainable at small institutions like North Central.”

The Soros Fellowship is among the most prestigious and generous national awards available for U.S. students planning to pursue graduate studies. The criterion that distinguishes it from other scholarships, such as the Rhodes Scholarship, is that applicants must be “new Americans,” that is, permanent residents, naturalized citizens or the children of naturalized citizens.

Each year a large number of applicants compete for one of 84 spots as a finalist. Half the finalists are then flown to New York and the other half to Los Angeles for an intensive interview session with the selection committee. From these, 30 fellows are selected. A fellow may pursue a graduate degree in any professional field or scholarly discipline in the arts, humanities, social sciences and sciences.

Soros Fellows are awarded two years of funding at any graduate/professional school, including $25,000 each year as a living stipend and up to $20,000 each year for tuition, totaling up to $90,000. New Soros Fellows are invited to participate in two weekend conferences.

Mashuli is the second student from North Central to earn a Soros Fellowship. The first was Veronika Gagovic, a 2001 graduate who applied her fellowship toward medical school.

“Etienne’s selection as a 2013 Soros Fellow is our 12th national scholarship winner in the past five years. The message is clear: Our highest-achieving students are being given the opportunities and the mentoring necessary to compete with the nation’s best and brightest, and to win,” says Perry Hamalis, Cecelia Schneller Mueller Professor of Religion, associate professor of religious studies and director of the College’s Office of Academic Opportunities, which coordinates the scholarship application process.