Ngina Kariuki ’19 Helps Develop MasterCard Scholar Social Network

September 12, 2016

The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program is a $700 million global initiative to educate and develop next-generation leaders. Some 15,000 Scholars over the next 10 years, primarily from Africa, will receive educational and professional support and learn to become leaders in their communities. Thanks in part to the work of Ngina Kariuki ’19, these scholars will have a better way to share resources and stay connected.

Kariuki helped to develop The Baobab Scholars Community Platform, a new social learning network to aid her fellow scholars to connect with peers and share knowledge and resources. “The digital learning platform is designed to deliver content, such as learning modules, discussion boards, and other electronic resources based on Scholars’ individual preferences aimed to help them further their personal and academic development,” she explained. “Also, the platform fulfills MasterCard Foundation's need to connect Scholars across Africa and the world.”

Kariuki conducted interviews with Scholars to gain insights on their needs, and analyzed and reported on Scholar trends based on their location. “My role in the project was to research and generate relevant and relatable content suitable for African Scholars audience, in order to encourage Scholars to connect with their peers to share knowledge and resources,” she said. She also assisted in developing a marketing strategy and campaign for the launch of the Scholars Community Platform.

Kariuki said her Wellesley experience helped to inform her work. “My Computer Science class, in particular, taught me the principals of design thinking, which I used often when trying to approach different problems,” she said. “Likewise, learning marketing tactics, critical thinking, and various research skills in my classes helped me when I was interviewing Scholars in order to understand their needs and thereby create digital content for the platform. As result of all these skills, I was able to help create a platform that delivers a personalized experience.”

Kariuki, who is interested in computer science and technological innovation in the farming industry in rural communities, is one of 12 of MasterCard Foundation Scholars currently studying at Wellesley. According to Karen Zuffante Pabon, director of Slater International Center and international student and scholar advisor, the College’s goal is to admit four new scholars each year for the next four years.

The MasterCard Foundation created the Scholars Program to help youth with academic promise become community leaders. The Program provides students with academic and professional support and a range of services, including comprehensive college scholarships, career counseling and leadership training.