In 1997 I was forced to quit primary school to become a herdboy for 4 years straight.
In 2001 I stood up against my grandfather and quit being a herdboy to force my way back to school.
In 2007 I had to start high school but had no school fees; until Mrs. Ronna Abbott, a New Yorker, volunteered to sponsor my high school education. I had met Ronna in the early 2000s when she was a Peace Corps volunteer in my village.
In 2012 I started my higher education at Keuka College, upstate New York, under my government’s promise to send me stipend and cover room and board in addition to the partial scholarship I was awarded, but the money never came.
In 2013 I had to quit and returned to Lesotho, with no degree that I so much needed.
Upon arrival, I started sending out school applications, 15 to be exact:
In 2014 admission decisions came and I had been accepted in 13 schools, but none of them offered me a full scholarship that I needed to get back; so, I had to try again.
Faced with pressure from friends and family about hanging onto “my American education dream”, I decided to apply for ICCR fellowship program and got accepted;
In 2015 I left for India to start the program, while I continued applying to U.S schools, this time focusing on one school- Michigan State University.
In 2016, upon return to Lesotho I was greeted with acceptance into Michigan State University, this time awarded full scholarship from Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. Finally, my journey started on a smooth run this time.
In 2020, here I am, graduating into uncertainty- a rather turbulent landing for all students graduating this year.
Now, am I worried? Yes, rightfully so… but one thing for sure is I have my hands on the trophy that no one from my family ever got. I have managed to do what many thought it was a dream long dead (and I don’t blame them). Having lost both parents shortly after I was born, my takeoff was rather shaky too, I was born into uncertainty and this too shall pass.
To Class of 2020, congratulations! Let’s not let the current events change our perspectives, but rather use this time as an opportunity to re-think, re-evaluate and conquer the uncertainty! NW
Hlokomelang David Rakojoana is a recent Michigan State University graduate and Mastercard Scholar who’s spent many hours working on various Machine Learning/Data Science projects.