Alumna Merab Twahirwa speaks about her time as YALI Fellow-Carnegie Mellon University Africa - Carnegie Mellon University

Alumna Merab Twahirwa speaks about her time as YALI Fellow

CMU-R Alumna Merab Twahirwa speaks about her time as a YALI Fellow

Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda (CMU-R) alumna Merab Twahirwa was selected from among 850 applicants in Rwanda to take part in the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) this summer in the U.S. She took 6 weeks away from her job as a software product manager at Pivot Access in Kigali to take part in the program, which was launched by U.S. President Obama in 2010 to support young African leaders.

“It was hard to get time off but I’m working with my classmate from CMU-R, Vanessa Umutoni, who covered for me – but I worked 3-4 hours per day to keep up.“

YALI Fellows

There are several “tracks” in the YALI program depending on the experience and interests of the participants. Merab participated in the Business and Entrepreneurship program, where she joined participants from 19 countries in Notre Dame University in Indiana. As one of the four top students in class at CMU-R, Merab spent a semester in Pittsburgh but found the campus experience at Notre Dame’s Medoza School of Business to be quite different.

“CMU is more a research and technology campus, Mendoza is a business and entrepreneurship centre, so different focus and more business people.”

“The classes are in how to capture data and reuse it to think about consumer behavior to drive innovation in products and services. There were seminars on understanding leadership in companies. “

She particularly benefitted from the networking with other African participants, which allowed her to see what business people in other countries are doing and what opportunities are available elsewhere in the continent. She is looking forward to investigating how she can take products from Pivot Access into other countries.

The Mendoza College of Business is a comprehensive full-time business school at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana, United States.

YALI Fellows, who are between the ages of 25 and 35, have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, communities, and countries.

YALI group


Related Links

YALI Fellowship