Hamline News

Rwandan Student Gets Full Scholarship to Hamline


When a group of Hamline students visited Linda Umwali’s school during a study abroad trip to Rwanda in 2013, Umwali never imagined she would be a Hamline student herself one day.

“I talked about it with my parents, and because of the cost, it was out of the question,” she said.

But the students at Gashora Girls Academy had made such a strong impression on trip organizers Professor Melissa Embser-Herbert and Kari Richtsmeier, director of off-campus and international programs, that, upon returning to Hamline, they immediately began working to create a full-tuition scholarship for a graduate of the school, and Umwali is the first recipient.

Now a first-year student at Hamline with her first Minnesota winter behind her, Umwali says she’s doing well in her classes and is enjoying college life.

“I love the welcoming spirit of Hamline,” she said with a smile. “People on campus are so friendly and helpful. The professors are really great because they don’t just look at you as a number; they know you as a person. They are amazing.”

One lesson this experience of a lifetime has taught Umwali is to dream big. “Eventually, my goal is to become the minister of finance and economic planning for Rwanda,” she said. “I know that it will be a long journey, but I want to continue the great work others have already done and continue to do for Rwanda. Progress has already been made by great people, and I want to walk in their footsteps.”

Read a 2013 Hamline magazine article about the Rwanda study abroad trip, as well as a more in-depth story about Umwali, and listen to a Minnesota Public Radio interview with her.