Ruth First Scholar (2012-13)
Agnes Wizi is from Malawi. She graduated from the University of Malawi in 2009 with a BEd in Humanities. She has been involved in student initiatives to combat corruption and promote the empowerment of girls in rural areas. She has worked as a schoolteacher and lecturer (at the Catholic University of Malawi), and as an intern for the Association of Progressive Women in Malawi. She has also played a leading role in community projects supporting people living with HIV and coordinating young people’s charity work.
At Durham, Agnes took an MA in Social Work Studies. She was a member of St Chad’s College, which supports the Scholarship by providing subsidized accommodation for all Ruth First Scholars. She was elected as postgraduate representative for the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health. Her dissertation focused on the experiences of disabled women in Malawi.She stayed in the UK for a few months before returning to Malawi, which allowed her to come back for the graduation ceremony in Durham Cathedral.In February 2015, Agnes wrote to say: “I am forever grateful to the Trust for the scholarship. It turned me into an absolute agent of change.”
In February 2015, Agnes started work as a Lecturer in Social Work at the Catholic University of Malawi. She has been doing social work-related consultancies with professors from the University of Malawi, and has set up a mentorship programme for young people. This is how she describes the initiative:
“While I was in Durham, it came to my mind that in Malawi, there are so many young people who are smart but fail to attain quality higher education because of financial constraints, stiff competition in local public universities, and general lack of knowledge of alternatives. I decided to help these young people by introducing a mentorship programme to help them channel their career paths. This programme, which goes by the name ‘Klesis Educational Initiative’, targets high school leavers who are mentored on how to apply for local and international scholarships. In 2014 four of my mentees from very poor backgrounds were successful and attained fully funded undergraduate scholarships to attend McGill University (Canada), Arizona State University in the US, and EARTH University in Costa Rica. Several young people managed to attain scholarships locally, while others were simply mentored to go back to secondary school to improve their results and help them attain scholarships in future. I started with very few young people in 2013, but now our group has grown to over 150. I’ve been working with three friends, two of whom are secondary school teachers, who have been helping me in the mentorship process. At the moment, we are working on establishing Klesis Educational Initiative as an NGO.”
Agnes features in the One Life World Changer blog: