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PhD student fled Rwandan genocide to come to DU

Social work PhD candidate Hadidja Nyiransekuye, MSW ’00, survived four years of war and genocide in her native Rwanda. “The magnitude of the genocide has made us daring,” she says. “We dare to speak, to research, to challenge ourselves and the world we live in.”

American acquaintances she made during post-war relief efforts persuaded Nyiransekuye to come to Colorado to study leadership, management and ways to help trauma victims. Ugandan Rachel Mukwaya, MSW ’00, MA ’00, helped steer her toward social work.

Nyiransekuye’s primary interests are the challenges facing women and children from Sub-Saharan African countries, an area of research she believes has been sorely neglected. “When I came to America, I was given the opportunity to give a voice to my people,” she says. “We have scholarly ambitions and dreams of a better tomorrow, especially for our children. Yet we must constantly remind policy-makers and researchers who demean or ignore us that we have a valuable contribution to make to the world.”

Graduate study has proved challenging while raising her four children in an unfamiliar culture and without her extended family. Still, Nyiransekuye is determined to complete her PhD, return home and work with international agencies that offer technical assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa.

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