NASHVILLE – As Zimbabwe was embroiled in hyperinflation which crippled its economy, Africa University student Bright Mutingwende was able to enroll and attend classes through the scholarship support he received from the Bishop Leontine T.C. Kelly Endowed Scholarship Fund.
In June, Mutingwende expects to fulfill a dream by receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting from the university's Faculty (school) of Management.
Bishop Kelly was honored with the creation of the endowed scholarship in her name on her 80th birthday, 11 years ago, at the United Methodist-related university in Old Mutare, Zimbabwe. Now living in Lake Park Senior Residence in Oakland, California (a United Methodist-related facility), Bishop Kelly turned 91 on March 5.
Mutingwende is the third recipient of the Bishop Kelly scholarship. He says he would never have been able to attend the university without the financial assistance the scholarship provided. The partial scholarship he received was the final piece of financial support he needed to attend Africa University.
Already, Mutingwende had been forced to wait three years after graduating from high school before his uncle and other family members were able to raise the initial funds to allow him to pursue his dream of attending college. Without the scholarship, the time of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe would have created an impossible burden for his financially challenged family.
At one point during the country's economic crisis, Africa University was the only university of the 13 in the nation to remain open and holding classes.
Bishop Kelly's daughter, Angella Current-Felder, is a member of Africa University's board of directors and advisory development committee. While attending the March 2011 meeting of the board, Current-Felder met with Bright to convey greetings from her mother and to give him a copy of her own book, Breaking Barriers: An African American Family and the Methodist Story, which includes the story of her mother's journey to the episcopacy.
Mutingwende told Current-Felder that the book's title, Breaking Barriers, applies to him, as well.
He added that he appreciates the fact that being at Africa University exposes him to a culturally diverse student population, along with giving him the opportunity to work towards a degree. Twenty-four African nations are represented in the university's 1200-member student body. Mutingwende also shared that he has been an active volunteer and has served as a tutor for many students.
The General Conference of The United Methodist Church established Africa University in 1988. For more information about Africa University's scholarship programs, contact the AU Development Office, P. O. Box 340007, Nashville, TN 37203-0007. You may call 615.340.7438 or visit the university's website at http://www.support-africauniversity.org, for more information.