Jane’s College Acceptance

Jane, in her secondary school uniform.

We are very proud of Jane, one of our first Coalition for Courage scholars, who was accepted to Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA. Martha Van Wyck and Richard Cabezas have sponsored Jane from the time she was in the 6th grade.  These dedicated sponsors finally met Jane when she visited US colleges in January 2009.  Jane has worked very hard in secondary school.  She was awarded many prizes of excellence including Best Overall Student.  She also received honors in History, Shona and English. Below are a few excerpts from Jane’s College application essay.

by Jane Mugovi

Mount Holyoke College is my first and only choice of American Universities. Although I am a Zimbabwean, Mount Holyoke women have greatly influenced my life. I had the opportunity to meet many Mount Holyoke women when they came to Tsungirirai to volunteer. Women such as Arden O’Donnell, Elizabeth Berges, Bethany Sager and other Mount Holyoke women I met when I was in America each possess an air of independence and competence. In my view these women believe in the supreme worth of any individual, their dedication to service to others as well as the belief in the right to liberty and the pursuit to happiness inspires me. They walk with fearless confidence, decorous determination and an aristocratic air. After learning they were all Mount Holyoke graduates, I knew that I want to be part of the community where they learned.

Reflections from Liz
When I spotted the mail from Mount Holyoke, my heart raced just as it did before I tore into my own acceptance letter twenty years ago. This envelope, however, was addressed to Jane. Holding it in my hands, I sat down on the stairs and took a deep breath. Memories flashed through my mind – meeting Jane when she was in 6th grade, watching her lead a group of 50 orphans in song, teaching her how to shake hands firmly, smiling as she realized that we wore the same size shoes and that I would let her borrow mine, seeing her shock as she walked out of the airport last year to feel the freezing cold of New England winters. Please let her get in, I thought. Please, please. I slowly opened the large envelope, and finally let out my breath as I read those magic words. “Congratulations, you have been accepted into Mount Holyoke College.”

Have you ever had a moment in your life when you felt that if you died it would all be worth it? That’s how her acceptance feels to me. After being sponsored through Coalition for Courage for seven years, she has secured a $200,000 scholarship to an amazing college. If this isn’t evidence of the life changing opportunities we are offering children, I don’t know what is.

Jane and Vitalis

Reflections from Arden
When we met Jane, she was in sixth grade. She owned one uniform and one pair of shoes. She struck us as an intelligent, hard working girl who was navigating extreme poverty, compounded by a very difficult living situation. She was shy, and had a tendency to make a popping sound with her mouth when she was nervous (a habit which Vitalis worked hard to squash). Even at a young age, it was clear she had potential – everyone saw it. In fact, she was part of the reason we started a sponsorship program. When we moved her to a local private school and she moved herself up to first in the class, we decided that raising money for boarding school might be a good idea. For the next six years, her dedicated sponsors paid for her to attend an exclusive Zimbabwean boarding school, where Jane competed with some of the most privileged and connected girls in the country.

When I tell people of her acceptance to Mount Holyoke, some say that we did this for her. But I deeply believe that she did it for herself. It was her sense of purpose and daily dedication that helped us notice her in the first place, and it was these same traits that have continued to make her successful. I like to view our sponsorship program as a trampoline. We place it in front of children who seem to have a spark, and then tell them to go ahead and jump. We might give them a few tips about how to make the most of their bounce, but we don’t jump for them. In this game, there is no safety net. They have only one chance, and if they take it, they may fly.

Just as Liz and I never intended to start a nonprofit agency, we never thought we could provide university scholarships to children. This seemed too expensive, and we were conflicted about investing so much money in one child when there are so many others who need help. But as children like Jane have excelled beyond our wildest hopes, it has become clear that we must provide some sort of post secondary support.

Jane’s scholarship from Mount Holyoke will cover every penny of her room and board.

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