February 1, 2011

University Fund Advisory Board Members Announced

Last month, we announced the creation of the AGYA University Fund, a savings account that will provide college-bound Ugandan youth with a sustainable source of financial aid. This month, we are announcing the names of the AGYA International Volunteer Program Alumni who have committed to serving on the Advisory Board of the University Fund.

As alumni of AGYA's International Volunteer Program, all of the Advisory Board Members are either college students or young professionals who have contributed to and experienced first-hand AGYA's work to empower, educate and enrich the lives of Ugandan youth.

This year, the Advisory Board will help AGYA raise money for the Fund and dedicate time to reviewing scholarship applications and making recommendations for scholarship awards. AGYA will begin offering scholarships in January 2012.

Nasra Mire, 25 years old
Volunteered with AGYA - May/June 2009, May 2010

Nasra is a youth empowerment advocate and experienced leadership facilitator based in Canada. She has spent five years within the non-profit and grassroots sector expanding her professional and personal experiences and developing platforms for experiential learning social programs.

As a first generation Canadian-Somali, Nasra has seen first-hand the impact and importance of conflict resolution and youth development. This has motivated Nasra to continue her work with immigrant and refugee youth both in Canada and East Africa.
Nasra is the co-founder of Point Youth Media, one of AGYA's long-term partners that provides youth with media skills in Vancouver, BC and internationally.

Nasra is currently a student at University of Canada West where she is pursuing a degree in media and communications.

Natalia Maria Calderon, 22 years old
Volunteered with AGYA - June 2010

Natalia is a fourth year student at the University of Southern California studying Neuroscience and English literature. She plans to attend medical school in the future, and pursue her love of writing and photography. During her time volunteering with AGYA in Uganda, Natalia facilitated a poetry class, sharing the art of some of her favorite poets, including Walt Whitman and Czeslaw Milosz! Natalia's decision to join the advisory board was fueled by her love of education and her desire to help the amazingly talented youth of AGYA gain access to great opportunities. Natalia says "higher education is more than just a key to a future, it is the tool for empowerment of talented adolescent youth."

Derrius Lamar Quarles, 20 years old
Volunteered with AGYA - December 2010

Derrius is a sophomore at Morehouse College. As a Sociology major with a minor in Public Health and Economics he hopes to go to gain acceptance into an MD/PhD physician scientist program upon graduation with ambitions to one day work in global health, international public health policy, and health policy in his hometown, Chicago.

To help him achieve these academic and career ambitions, Derrius won more than $1.1 million in scholarships, including a full scholarship to attend Morehouse before graduating from Chicago’s Kenwood Academy High School with a 4.2 GPA. Derrius is a current Gates Millennium, Horatio Alger, Coca-Cola, and Dell Scholar. His financial-aid accomplishments have earned him the title “Million Dollar Scholar.” He has been a guest writer for the Scholarships.com blog and just recently authored the book MillionDollarScholar: Winning the Race For Financial-Aid. The book is geared toward helping high school students learn how to put together winning scholarship applications to help them fund their higher education.

Derrius' work with the AGYA University Fund Advisory Board will build on his passion of helping underprivileged youth gain access to higher education.

Amber Hogans, 21 years old
Volunteered with AGYA - June 2010

Amber is a senior at the University of Southern California (USC) working towards a degree in Accounting and a minor degree in Religious Studies. Upon graduation in December 2011, Amber plans to acquire her license to practice as a Certified Public Accountant.

Amber has always been passionate about giving back. In Summer 2010, she traveled to Uganda as an AGYA volunteer. She facilitated a workshop for youth which centered on leadership and professional development.

Amber is excited to be a member of the Advisory Board because she feels a duty to give someone the opportunity to better themselves in efforts to gain a better chance at life by being able to pursue higher education.

In regards to the youth at AGYA, Amber has seen firsthand the hunger and thirst for knowledge. She says "the youth are truly brilliant; but like anyone, they just need that extra academic polishing that a collegiate experience would provide. I pray that this scholarship fund grants many Ugandan youth that hope of a better future."

Lindsey Patin, 20 years old
Volunteered with AGYA - June 2010

Lindsey is a 3rd year student majoring in International Relations and Economics at the University of Southern California. She plans to go to law school and practice International Law when she graduates.

Lindsey decided to serve on the Advisory Board because she feels that the promotion of AGYA and its goals for empowerment of Ugandan youth is incredibly important for the growth and culture of the country of Uganda. She also wishes to be involved with AGYA while she is not in Uganda, and this is a way she can contribute time and energy for the good of AGYA.

Lindsey says "I think higher education is important because it gives the knowledge and tools that every person needs to take full advantage of the gifts they've been given and to make a change in their country and in the world with the highest level of education possible."

Marianna Singwi-Ferrono, 21 years old
Volunteered with AGYA - June 2009

Marianna is a Senior at the University of Southern California majoring in International Relations and a major in Spanish. Marianna attended public school at Evanston Township High School just outside of Chicago.

Next year, Marianna will be teaching in the Bay Area in a bilingual elementary school through Teach for America. She hopes to dedicate the rest of her life to fighting educational inequity both at home and in the international community
Marianna participated in the first USC RAYSE (The Rise of African Youth Through Self-Empowerment) service-learning trip to AGYA during the summer of 2009. She taught a world cultures class at AGYA and co-taught an arts program at Nabulagala Good Hope Elementary School.
Marianna joined the advisory board because she whole-heartedly believes in the potential of each Ugandan student at AGYA to succeed in higher-level education. Higher education not only gives students greater opportunities for occupational success but also allows them to develop their passions, hone their talents and explore their curiosity. I believe it is the fundamental right of each individual to have access to higher education and fulfill their potential as learners, teachers, and human beings.
Marianna says: "We should set our expectations high for each of these motivated and talented individuals because they are capable of nothing less than intellectual curiosity and greatness. The AGYA community is truly unique because the benefits of this scholarship will not stop at the individual recipient but instead will be paid forward to the women and youth of the AGYA community."