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Testimonials and Success Stories


UMAPS alumni Emmanuel Danquah, 2009-10 Scholar (Ghana); Anne Oguttu, 2008-09 Scholar (South Africa); Telteltee Sayndee, 2010-11 Scholar (Liberia); David Kenkpen, 2010-11 Scholar (Liberia); and Ruth Mampane, 2010-11 Scholar (South Africa) share why UMAPS at the University of Michigan was a memorable experience for their research, growth, and development.

Vangile Bingma (South Africa), 2015-16 Scholar

“The most important experience was having dedicated time to read and write. Since starting out in 2010 as a junior lecturer, I have not had time off dedicated to reading and writing. I have always had two or three other things going on concurrently with my research work. For the first time, I realized the necessity of dedicated time in developing ideas. Once I started settling into a routine, I also appreciated that I could follow an idea without having competing commitments or rushing for deadlines. Aside from writing, which was the main goal of the residency, I read! The reading time was perhaps the most valuable. In my writing, I can now draw from a wide range of sources.”

Endale Hadgu (Ethiopia), 2015-16 Scholar

“The UMAPS program was very instrumental for exchange of culture between me and my American colleagues and friends. I have celebrated Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, and New Year. I was also able to explain our (Ethiopian) holidays and foods to lots of people. Experiences like this help in the cultural understanding of people from all over the world and create opportunities for tolerance and peace. Similar to collaboration, cultural exchange has not only been between me and the American colleagues but also with my African brothers and sisters in this program. All of the UMAPS fellows have now celebrated the Ethiopian New Year in September which is different than other African countries. This has been a nice opportunity to exchange culture amongst ourselves in Africa because of the diversity in culture across Africa.”

Joy Gumikiriza (Uganda), 2015-16 Scholar

“When I arrived in Michigan with lots of uncertainty, I kept wondering whether the decision I made was worthwhile. By the end of the second week, having met with my mentors, the ASC team, and the entire UMAPS colleagues, my fears started diminishing. In their place was a newfound feeling of awe. The infrastructure was amazing, the internet access an entirely new experience, the library resources, I can’t even describe them. That is when I realized—Joy needed to make every single day in Michigan worth it.”

Success Stories

Sekepe Matjila (South Africa), Inaugural 2008-09 Scholar

Sekepe Matjila returned to the Department of African Languages at the University of South Africa (UNISA), submitted his dissertation on the Botswana poet Raditladi (completed while at U-M), received his PhD, published four articles, co-authored a book on the oeuvre of South African author Sol T. Plaatje, and in 2011 was promoted from Senior Lecturer to Associate Professor with tenure. He now directs the Centre for Pan African Languages and Cultural Development at UNISA. "I would like to thank President Coleman for affording us the opportunity to do our uninterrupted research for six months... It was through UMAPS that I managed to focus on my research and complete my corrections. I would like to encourage you to continue doing this wonderful program, which has really empowered me."

Annet Wanyana Oguttu (South Africa), Inaugural 2008-09 Scholar

One year following her UMAPS residency, Annet Wanyana Oguttu gave her inaugural lecture as the first female full professor appointed to the College of Law at the University of South Africa (UNISA). Her topic, “The Challenges of Tax Sparing: A Call to Reconsider the Policy in South Africa,” attracted the attendance of the Chief Director of tax and compliance at the South African National Treasury. As one of few experts in the realm of international tax law in her country, Oguttu now serves an advisory role to the government. At U-M, she was mentored by Professor Reuven Avi-Yonah, who has written the most widely used textbook on international tax law around the world. She was overjoyed to be paired with him and ended up contributing a chapter on South African tax law to one of his subsequent publications.

Alexius Amtaika (South Africa), Inaugural 2008-09 Scholar

Alexius Amtaika, senior lecturer in political science at University of the Free State, South Africa, started life as the child of a farm laborer and self-funded his education through his doctorate at the University of Witwatersrand. After graduating and obtaining his first position, he was made solely responsible for teaching all International Relations courses (over 1200 students per year) and supervising all student theses (from first-year level to Master’s level). “The demand for tertiary education outpaces the capacities of universities to offer quality education. This also puts strains on the lecturers who struggle to offer quality education in the face of huge teaching loads. The awarding of the Presidential Fellowship to me by the University of Michigan therefore was liberating and gave me the much needed time and space to re-launch my research career, which took the back seat and was superseded by teaching. It offered me the great opportunity not only to rediscover myself, but also to re-establish myself as an academic of international standing.” He has published a book, numerous articles, and launched the Journal of African and Asian Local Government Studies, for which he serves as editor-in-chief.

Lilian Duku (Ghana), 2013-14 Scholar

Lilian Duku, an assistant lecturer in hematology at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, proposed to pursue research in blood transfusion science. During her six-month stay, she received training in antibody screening and identification as a means of improving the safety of blood transfusions and reducing alloimmunization rates. Interested in reducing morbidity and mortality among patients with sickle cell disease back home in Ghana, she spent part of her residency analyzing the success rate of the antigen matching program at the U-M Blood Bank. She discovered that antigen matching reduced the alloimmunization rates in patients here by a full 50%. Armed with this knowledge, she is determined to introduce antigen matching back home in Ghana to improve sickle cell treatment (which afflicts 25% of the Ghanaian population, in contrast to only 1% of the US population). The short video above features Lilian's work at U-M.