Student Bios

Jean Pierre Ndikumana


When I was three years old, my parents died in the genocide leaving me and twin sisters behind. That time of life was not easy. For a short while we were cared for in an orphan camp. Later we moved to my aunt’s house. This was scarcely better because she was a genocide widow with nine children of her own. Although this family of twelve children were raised in poverty, my aunt strove to get everyone to school because she knew that education is our engine of development.

I completed primary school and then entered secondary school as a boarding student, which is common in Rwanda. The fees for the boarding school were often lacking, so my attendance was not continuous. This hurt my grades. Nevertheless, I applied myself as best I could and enjoyed those years, coming away with many friendships. It has been my goal to obtain university degrees to brighten my future as well as to strengthen the needy and helpless.

Like most young people in Rwanda, I love to play soccer and usually play right striker. I currently live with another young man of high values and we share the costs of a small mud brick home without electricity or water. Although work is hard to find, we strive to keep a productive schedule and take turns cooking for each other. Our evening meal is usually the only meal we can afford. We are very good at budgeting, using our imaginations and sense of humor to stretch it!

In January, while translating at a church sponsored wheelchair project, I met John and Marcia Dow who told me about the Hopkin Foundation Scholarship. This March I have gone to some villages with the wheelchair project to assist in construction of the chairs and documenting their placement. I have enjoyed working on the project because I have learned much about physical therapy, the diseases in our community, and our local government.

If I receive a scholarship from the Hopkin Foundation I will attend the University of Kigali where I will study law. Below is a picture of me and two friends. I’m the good-looking one on the right.

Joseph Kaluba


I was born in Zambia into a family with limited means. My father died when I was 10 years old. He never finished high school, but he still provided for us. My mother never even went to grade school. Mum became the bread-winner after my father died which was tough because it’s very difficult for a woman who can’t even spell or read to raise 4 kids. But she always encouraged me to go to school so that I could change my circumstances. She would wake up in the morning and then go and resell used clothing to make ends meet. Sleeping without eating dinner was normal on most days.

I grew up in the poorest of poor neighborhoods but I loved school very much. I was doing really well studying by candle light because there was no electricity where we stayed, but I still believed that education could change my life as instructed by my mother. I used to walk to school for many kilometers every day and on most days with an empty stomach. I believed that I would make a difference in my family. I was an excellent student. This inspired other people to pay for my school fees when I was in middle and high school. This blessed my life because my mother was not able to pay for my school fees. On many days she couldn’t even afford to provide us with food.

Life became even more difficult when I went to high school because my school was 17 miles from where I was staying. Someone gave me a bike because they knew that I couldn’t afford to pay for bus rides to get to school. I had a million reasons to quit school and blame my circumstances, but I did not quit. I worked harder and harder until I managed to graduate from high school - the first one in my family to finish high school. The first one to go to college too. I have overcome many obstacles in my life. I believe that hard work in the end always wins.

I met my best friend and future wife, Berihane, while we were both serving as volunteer missionaries in Kenya. After we completed our missionary service, we decided to marry and move to the U.S. to attend BYU-Idaho. We now have two sons together. They are pure joy to us.

Thanks to friends who helped us during our first two years at BYU-Idaho and the Hopkin Foundation that provided scholarship support during our final two years at BYU-Idaho, I was able to graduate from BYU-Idaho in Finance in August 2017. We now live in Salt Lake City where I work for ______________. Unfortunately, my student visa and my work authorization expires in June 2018. If I can secure the necessary funds, I plan to enroll in a one-year Masters of Information Systems program at the University of Utah in the fall of 2018.

Stéphane Akoki

(Ivory Coast)

In August 2018, I graduated from BYU. To me it is more than an academic achievement, it is a testament that, with the Lord’s help, anything is possible – even the impossible.

After high school, I was unable to attend college because an armed conflict caused significant damage to the national university. Every attempt to attend private university failed because I lack the financial support. On one occasion, I needed $150 to join a top computer school. However, by the time I gather up the money, registration was closed and all my petitions to attend the school were denied.

To support myself and my family, I became a businessman. Many of my "startups" failed, but the tip of the top iceberg was when the owner of a company I managed, embezzled the company’s funds, putting my co-workers and me at risk of going to jail.

Disappointed, I left the business world and attended the cheapest college I could afford. Unfortunately, this college didn’t meet anyone’s expectations. Our professors wouldn’t come to class because they weren’t being compensated. We had no computers, so we had to write code on paper and hoped it would compile in the real world. These are only a few challenges I can mention.

Following a friend’s suggestion, I decided to go to China to pursue a Computer Science degree. My parents had to take several loans to help me fulfill my dream of obtaining an education. Unfortunately, we were scammed by the travel agency. I was left in China without money and resources for an entire year. I struggled really hard to learn a new language and culture while dealing with homesickness. By God’s grace and the charity of many, I was able to come to the USA and pursue my education.

Within 3½ years, I obtained an associate degree in business, and an Information Systems degree from BYU. During that time, I had worked for a fortune 500 company, interned with a Big 4 accounting firm, worked with several tech firms and, most importantly, started a non-profit organization that aims to empower education to underprivileged Ivoirians. Great accomplishments require sacrifices and patience. When times are hard, please do not quit, I promise you than every little thing shall be alright. I promise you that your future will be more magnificent that you can ever imagine if you believe and keep moving forward. The impossible is truly nothing for those who endure and persevere.

I am grateful to all the people who supported me. Now that I have been given so much, I too must give. I look forward to making a difference in the world and blessing the lives of many others.