Three more Yale affiliates named Gates Cambridge Fellows
Ololade Aliyu Siyonbola, a current master’s degree candidate in African studies at Yale, and alumni Onon Bayasglan ’13 M.E.M. and Etienne Mashuli ’15 M.A., have won Gates Cambridge Scholarships for study at the University of Cambridge. The three, who were chosen in the international round of selection, join two U.S. Gates Cambridge Scholars announced earlier: Yale senior Fernando Rojas and alumnus Dhruv Nandamudi ’18. The five Yale affiliates are among the 90 scholars who make up the Gates Cambridge Class of 2019.
Two of the alumni — Bayasgalan and Mashuli — are the first from their countries (Mongolia and Burundi, respectively) to win the scholarship. The Gates Cambridge scholars-elect are citizens of 37 different countries, and this year 27 universities produced their first Gates Cambridge Scholar.
Two-thirds of the Gates Cambridge Scholars will pursue Ph.D.s in subjects ranging from cybersecurity, human trafficking, and the heritage and identity of the Caribbean to early detection of esophageal cancer and the genetics of TB resistance.
The international postgraduate scholarship program was launched in 2000 with a $210 million donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which remains the largest single donation in history to a university in the United Kingdom.
“The Gates Cambridge Scholars are an extraordinary group of people. Not only have they demonstrated outstanding academic abilities in their field, but they have also shown a real commitment to engaging with the world — and to changing it for the better,” said Stephen Toope, the vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge and chair of the Gates Cambridge trustees. “They truly embody the values our university cherishes — excellence, a global outlook, and an aspiration to contribute to society.”
Barry Everitt, provost (CEO) of the Gates Cambridge Trust, said: “We are sure that our 2019 cohort will flourish in the vibrant, international community at Cambridge as Gates Cambridge Scholars and beyond, making a substantial impact in their fields and the wider global community.”
Aliyu Siyonbola, who is from Nigeria, will pursue a Ph.D in sociology at Cambridge University. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri, majoring in computer science. It was there that she first became passionate about the issue of cultural displacement among African immigrants. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she created cultural programming for the African Diaspora while working as a technologist. She then came to Yale, where she earned a master’s in African studies. At Yale, she researched Nigerian immigrant identity in New York, Tokyo, and Mumbai under the tutelage of Yale sociologist Elijah Anderson. At Cambridge, she hopes to build upon this work, investigating the assimilation trajectories of second-generation Nigerian immigrants. With her research, she hopes to leverage the talents of the Diaspora to help increase access to innovative technical and creative education in Nigeria, particularly for young female students who are less likely to receive an education than their male counterparts.
Bayasgalan, who was born in Mongolia, will pursue a M.Phil. in conservation leadership at Cambridge University. She studied environmental economics at Whitman College and environmental management at the Yale School of Forestry. During her years of study, she became fascinated by how the valuation of environmental services can be used as a tool to influence policies. She managed a market-based conservation project called the Sustainable Cashmere Project while in the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Mongolia program. She is interested in further exploring ways to incorporate sustainable practices and standards into supply chains. She believes that forging strong relations with committed industries is one of the key solutions to expanding the impact and influence of conservation principles around the world. She also hopes to further support young environmentalists, building on the Environmental Fellowship Program that she initiated while working for the Zong Foundation, and also would like to see Mongolian conservationists play a more critical leadership role by pushing to incorporate policies sensitive to climate change.
Mashuli will pursue a Ph.D. in politics and international studies. Born in Rwanda, his earliest memories are of life as a young refugee. He earned his undergraduate degree in political science at North Central College, whose board of trustees offered him a generous scholarship. While working on his master’s degree at Yale, he focused his study on the events that he left behind in Rwanda: mass atrocities and their consequences. For his doctoral work, he plans to look into the experiences of a marginalized group in the African Great Lakes known as the Batwa. He will explore how colonial and neo-colonial notions of eugenics have turned the Batwa into a de-politicized group with no say in its political, economic, or social reality. He also intends to continue to be involved in providing education for marginalized communities. He is the co-founder of the Tujenge Scholars Program, a leadership institute that has sent Burundi students to prestigious institutions of higher education with the goal of having them return home to be leaders in Africa’s transformation.
Since the first cohort of Gates Cambridge Scholars in 2001, more than 1,600 scholars have been selected from over 100 countries.