The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Dartmouth's 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows Program

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The Young African Leaders Initiative is a program created by President Obama to “spur growth, strengthen democratic systems and enhance peace and security.” Dartmouth’s Mandela Washington Fellows Program serves as a part of this initiative by hosting young leaders from countries all over Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Mandela Washington Fellows Program is competitive, selecting the best minds of Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2014, 50,000 young Africans applied; of these applicants, 500 were selected. These students are invited to Dartmouth and nineteen other university campuses.

Photo by Lars Blackmore.

Dartmouth in particular hosts students interested in business and entrepreneurship. Our program is the product of collaboration between the following departments: The Dickey Center for International Understanding, the Tucker Foundation for Service, Spirituality, & Social Justice, the Thayer School of Engineering, the Outdoor Programs Office, the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network (DEN), and the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy. Together, these departments work to enhance the leadership and business skills of some of the world’s brightest young minds.

Dartmouth’s YALI program incorporates two academic portions— an intensive design-thinking workshop and an entrepreneurship course. The Rockefeller Center supplements what these students learn inside of the classroom by teaching these students self-actualization and leadership excercises they can use to succeed outside of it. These exercises include leadership training, mentoring, networking, and professional opportunities.

Other departments contribute to the well-rounded experience of the participants as well. For example, through the Tucker Foundation, participants complete community service projects. Through the Thayer School of Engineering, they are introduced to a novel human design thinking system. Each department involved in the program fills a niche, contributing to the initiative’s overall goal of granting these participants a diverse, comprehensive business background.

The program not only changes the lives of the young Africans who participate, but also of those around them. Several members of the Rockefeller Center staff can attest to the memorable experiences they have shared with the program’s participants.

“Last year, we had a really great group,” says Tatyana Bills, Program Coordinator for Co-Curricular Programs at the Rockefeller Center. “They were really loud and charismatic. It was really an unforgettable experience.”

The impact these young leaders make in their home communities is long lasting and revolutionary. Considering the groundbreaking projects of leaders last year, there is no say as to what this year’s participants will devise after building a valuable education, an unforgettable experience, and a network that spans from sub-Saharan Africa to Hanover, New Hampshire.

-Written by Nikita Bakhru '17, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant  

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences