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YYAS helps African students navigate path to higher education abroad

Yale Young African Scholars (YYAS), a flagship program of the Yale Africa Initiative, held sessions in Kigali, Rwanda July 29-Aug. 7, and in Accra, Ghana Aug. 11-20.

This year, the program, which aims to make higher education more accessible to Africa’s most talented student leaders, included a cohort of more than 300 students who were chosen from nearly 2,000 applicants from 34 African countries. The program is administered by Yale staff and more than 20 Yale undergraduate and graduate students — most of whom hail from the continent themselves — who serve as instructors and mentors to the participants by leading discussion on a variety of topics ranging from the arts and the humanities, social sciences, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

YYAS sessions are typically conducted in seminar and discussion group formats, with Yalies offering an introduction to university academics, providing training for taking the SAT (the standardized test is often foreign and challenging to international students), and sharing their own personal experiences, offering encouragement to all participants. Students also attend lectures by prominent Yale faculty and local experts. By the end of the program, participants have a plan and timeline for submitting their applications, as well as abundant resources for further research and mentorship.

New programming this year included the provision of enhanced SAT prep materials; an activity on effective altruism that will lead to real donation of funds to a charity organization selected by the students practicing what they learned; a workshop on mindfulness and stress management techniques; and a university fair staffed by 15 admissions officers from higher education institutions located in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

In many instances African students on the continent find the process of applying to universities abroad a challenging, and oftentimes daunting, experience,” said Laura Kaub. “By participating in YYAS we can help them learn how to complete the forms, be aware of what requirements they must meet, and determine what their various financial aid options may be. This program helps make participants aware of what incredible opportunities are out there for them through direct engagement with participating instructors who have successfully navigated the university and financial aid application process and are eager to provide advice to others on how to do the same.”

Participation in the program is free, making it accessible to students from all financial backgrounds. In addition, YYAS offers a number of travel grants for admitted students from low-income backgrounds who demonstrate the need for financial assistance to offset the costs of airfare between African countries.

YYAS is made possible through the support of the Higherlife Foundation as well as by contributions from The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale.

For more information on YYAS and future programs, email african.scholars@yale.edu or visit YYAS online. The application for participating in the program can also be found online. Follow YYAS on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date on program news and announcements.

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Part of the In Focus Collection: Yale and Africa: Empowering through partnership

Media Contact

Adam Gaber: adam.gaber@yale.edu, 203-436-5449