Spotlight on voices of movers and shakers: Meet Claudette Igiraneza, winner of the School of Divinity Gratitude Essay Writing Competition

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In today’s post, Claudette Igiraneza shares her story in becoming a Mastercard Foundation Program Scholar and the passions that drive her activism. Claudette’s story is part of the Spotlight series on the Voices of Movers and Shakers.

My name is Claudette Igiraneza, and I was born and raised in Rwanda. I am currently pursuing my MSc in Global Health Policy at The University of Edinburgh after completing a BSc in Environment from the American University of Beirut. I have been a Mastercard Scholar since 2016, and being part of the Mastercard Scholars Program is one of the gifts that I cherish every day. Over the past few years, my work and social activism have focused on advocating for women’s basic rights in Lebanon and Somaliland, and giving back to my community has always been a motivation that keeps me going.

My main inspiration to pursue an MSc in global health policy was to supplement my passion and activism with academic and professional expertise in health policy and global health. Throughout my work, I often witnessed people’s lives being cut short simply because they are born or live under conditions that hinder them from accessing timely and quality healthcare services. I felt like pursuing a degree in health policy would boost my knowledge and amplify my voice to advocate for equitable policies and leave no one behind.

The University of Edinburgh was a great fit for me to pursue my degree because of its renowned academic expertise and research in the field of Global Health. Moreover, as a former Mastercard scholar, I remember telling my friends that being an MCF scholar was a God-sent gift, and I would choose it again over and over. So, when I learned that there was MCF at The University of Edinburgh, I knew it was time to re-join the family. And being part of the Mastercard Scholars Program has substantially assisted me in realising my potential as an agent of change, a transformative leader, a dreamer, and an individual.

I have been exposed to a couple of opportunities at the University. One is applying for the Gratitude Essay Competition organised by the School of Divinity. I was thrilled when I found out that I won the essay writing competition. In my essay, I shared my story of staying grateful despite turbulence brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. My favourite part of the essay is when I talk about how I got waitlisted by the MCF at The University of Edinburgh. Given how much I liked the school and the scholarship programme, the email announcing that I was waitlisted sounded so unreal, and I simply didn’t want to believe it. On my birthday, I received an email from the MCF congratulating me that I finally won the scholarship, and I always say that it is, so far, the best birthday gift I have ever received.

It has been an arduous and exciting journey in the past eight to nine months of studying at the university during a pandemic, but I think what has significantly kept me going is asking for help from family, friends, mentors, and professors whenever I need it. The pandemic has affected so many people, so one way to cope is not to ever feel like you are the only one going through hard times and not to deny yourself a chance to get help when you need it.

I hope my journey inspires you, and I hope you stay gratified at every point of your life.

photograph of the authorClaudette Igiraneza

Claudette Igiraneza is a MasterCard Foundation scholar from Rwanda pursuing an Msc in Global Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh. Claudette co-founded Solace for Somaliland Girls, a non-profit organisation that aims to eradicate all forms of Female Genital Mutilation in Somaliland. She is a fellow at The Resolution Project class 11, the Millenium Fellowship Class of 2019, Clinton Global Initiative University Class of 2020.

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Twitter: or @ClaudetteIgira1


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