A bright future for refugees who graduate with an American University Degree through Kepler

| Kepler
By UNHCR

Kepler serves over 500 students on its two campuses in Rwanda, 110 of whom are refugee learners.

Future can be more than just circumstances, it can be what one makes of it and what one seizes the opportunities that arise. This is what Kepler hopes for all of its students and this sentiment is shared by many of the students who truly take it to heart.  Kepler, a non-profit higher education program, began offering access to US degrees to students in Rwanda in 2013. In 2015, Kepler in partnership with UNHCR expanded the program from Kigali to Kiziba refugee camp in Western Rwanda. The program is done in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America which allows students to earn an American university degree that opens up opportunities for students following graduation. Currently, Kepler serves over 500 students on its two campuses in Rwanda, 110 of whom are refugee learners.  Kepler is dedicated to expanding access to tertiary education and pathways to employment for promising students.

One of these students is Annuarite from Kiziba refugee camp who recently finished an internship with Kasha in Kigali and is now looking to finish up her Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Management at Kepler’s Kiziba Campus. Kasha is an organization working in Kigali to provide women with family planning services that are confidential, convenient, and affordable so that every woman has access to the products she needs to take care of herself, her family and her community.

20170609-kiziba-1258 copyAnnuarite and a classmate listen to a guest speaker on professional competencies at Kepler Kiziba ©Kepler/Alex Buisse

20170611-graduation-1045 copyAnnuarite graduating with her Associate of Arts degree from Southern New Hampshire University, facilitated through the Kepler program ©Kepler/Alex Buisse

rsz_120170608-kiziba-1055_copyAnnuarite completing a class assignment with the support of a course facilitator at Kepler’s Kiziba refugee camp campus. ©Kepler/Alex Buisse

20170609-kiziba-0726 copyAnnuarite, 24, who grew up in Kiziba refugee camp, has just finished an internship in Kigali and is working towards her Bachelor’s degree at Kepler. ©Kepler/Alex Buisse

During her time with Kasha, Annuarite had the opportunity to work in three departments, allowing her to see how each section of the organization works as well as the aspects that make Kasha a successful business. These departments included the call center, where she talked directly to customers to ensure their orders were accurate; the supply chain, where she packed and delivered the orders; and healthcare, where she provided health education to women regarding family planning methods. She even had the chance to return to Kiziba to explore how Kasha could work within the camp and identify what type of services refugee women in Kiziba would be in need for and receptive.

Annuarite gained invaluable experience as an intern with Kasha and gained innumerable new skills. This position was the first time she provided customer service and worked in a call center. It was also her first time working in a team and collaborating with others. She saw firsthand how important these skills are in order to be successful in almost any career, but especially in Healthcare Management. In addition, she has come to recognize that it is crucial to show a good heart in this field of work, to show compassion and empathy to those that she is serving.

The future now looks much brighter for Annuarite thanks to Kepler and Kasha. It can be incredibly difficult to find a decent job with only a diploma from secondary school. Since she has now an American Associate’s Degree, which she graduated earlier this year, three months of work experience, and will soon be adding a Bachelor’s Degree as well, opportunities seem endless for Annuarite. She is now very interested in the family planning side of healthcare management and would love to start her own business after being employed and working for three or four years. She hopes to finish her Bachelor’s Degree quickly so she can move on to get a good job that will allow her to start saving money to achieve this goal. In the coming year, Annuarite is looking to not only change her own life, but also the lives of others in her community.