Yale Young African Scholars program proves life changing for Ethiopian student reporter

From left: Whitney Green, then an admissions officer from Columbia University, YJI Reporter Dawit Leake and Stanford University Assistant Dean of Admission Olufemi Ogundele at the Yale Young African Scholars program in Rwanda last summer.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Being part of the Yale Young African Scholars program last year was the most incredible experience I’ve had in my life.
I found out I was accepted for the program on April, 30, 2016 which happened to be Ethiopian Easter. I couldn’t control my excitement, knowing I was going to travel to Rwanda for this amazing program organized by Yale University.
As the days passed by and my flight date got closer, I grew more ecstatic.
On my flight to Kigali in July, I met other Ethiopians who were also part of the program, and we quickly shared our excitement. After landing, a bus picked us
up and took us to Green Hills Academy, which hosted the program.
From the time I arrived, it was one exciting experience after another for the whole week. The program was comprised of lectures, seminars, workshops, test prep sessions and more. We also spent time in small groups and talked about campus life. In each lecture there was always great knowledge to take away.
Throughout the program I learned many things and had incredible fun. I also got to know about different African countries and their cultures. One thing I learned from my Nigerian friends was the Shoki, a Nigerian dance move.
In a week’s time, I learned a lot at the Yale Young African Scholars program. I gained so much information, grew my network and made long lasting friendships.
I actually realized afterward how much exposure the program gave us. I met many great people, including Whitney Green, who was then a Columbia University Admissions officer.
Once I was back in Addis Ababa, I got information from a friend about a college information session in the city.  Four U.S. colleges took part, including Columbia University, and Green was there, too. I attended, along with some others who had been part of the Yale Young African Scholars program.
At the end of the session, we approached the stage. She remembered us and took the time to say hello. This is when I realized how much exposure our program had given us.
Yale Young African Scholars in total is a great life experience for anyone, and I truly feel lucky to have been selected to take part in it. 
Dawit Leake is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.
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