Zimbabwe/South Africa

Growing up with parents who struggled to provide him with an education, Stanley Ndambakuwa, 29, is focused on creating opportunities for access to education for young people, especially girls. His parents supported his education and he grew up helping them work in the fields in communities to raise money for tuition through primary and secondary education. His parents worked hard to provide him ways to learn despite their own lack of formal education, and he later received a Presidential scholarship award from the Government of Zimbabwe that helped him attain a degree, helped him escape poverty, and equipped him with a global perspective.

Ndambakuwa looks forward to the “combination of new experiences that come with the program, from the ability to connect young people from across the globe who are already making a difference in their societies to the support the program provides to the scholars’ dynamic and collaborative efforts to change the world.”

Ndambakuwa, who attained a B.A. in Geography and Environmental Science, and Management from Monash University, hopes to return to his native Zimbabwe with an action plan to sustain his work and expand the impact of his dreams.

“When I return to Zimbabwe, I want to focus on taking my work to the next level using the new skills, networks, experiences and resources I have gained from the Obama Foundation and the Harris School of Public Policy, after spending a year in Chicago," he said. "This will include launching new programs, using new models and strategies, reconditioning our approach to serving the most vulnerable individuals and poor communities, revamping our digital systems to connect the world to our work on the ground, and testing new thoughts and ideas shared with speakers, and meeting people in diners and roundtables all across Chicago and the US.”

As he learns how best to transform the trajectory of young students’ lives and to show them that international success is possible, Ndambakuwa discovers how to harness the power of individual stories. This work especially helps people within patriarchal societies who have been subject to child marriages, school dropouts or other setbacks.

“A partnership between the Obama Foundation and The University of Chicago is the world’s best and living within the Foundation’s and the University’s communities is unique to the program. We benefit from international renown and access to state-of-the-art facilities, including a global network of these two institutions.”