A Communication Management graduate student from Congo, Africa, recently received the Weston Award by the Institute of International Education, which provides supplemental grants to exceptional students from Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Nazaire Massamba, MA ’13, a Fulbright scholar, received the award in November.
“I’m the first-born son of a woman who doesn’t know how to read or write,” Massamba said in a speech last March during an academic conference. “But I define myself as being the product of that woman.”
Josh Weston created the Weston Awards Program to supplement travel and educational expenses for Fulbright Fellows chosen from the abovementioned regions.
Unlike wealthier European countries, many nations in Africa and Asia cannot afford to supplement funds provided by the U.S. government for Fulbright Fellowships.
Thirteen students, including Massamba, were chosen for the Weston Award this academic year. The grants are used for travel expenses; academic or professional development; and essential supplies, such as a laptop computer.
Massamba is the author of Le Monstre du Lac Tele, a true story about catching pythons in Congo’s swamp forest. He is working on a thesis that examines the hardships of people with diabetes.
In his speech last March, Massamba spoke of his lifelong determination to succeed. Here is an excerpt:
“When I was a kid, my mother earned a living by selling milk, sugar, and eggs in a community market. All the money she made went toward sending me to the most expensive schools in the country.
“My classmates in primary school and high school included sons and daughters of big businessmen and politicians. Most of her money went toward tuition. At times, there was nothing left for her to afford to buy me shoes.
“I remember those days when I went to school without shoes. I was still smart and intelligent, though. One day, a kid sitting next to me in the fifth grade got rid of his shoes in the classroom. I asked, ‘What are you doing?’ He replied, ‘I’m getting rid of my shoes to be as smart as you are. I know this is your little trick.’ That boy’s mother slapped him because he tried to make her believe that he was going to be smart if he could get rid of his shoes!
“I remember one cold night, I was crying because there was no oil left in my lamp so I couldn’t use it to read and prepare for an assignment the following morning. My mother’s hands were on my shoulders to encourage me. She told me, ‘Son, you’ll make it. Trust me.’”