Justus Uwayesu

Justus Uwayesu’s story begins in the southeastern part of his beloved country and at one of the grisliest sites of the Rwandan Genocide against Tutsi. At the age of 3, he and his siblings lost both of their parents. As a young child, Justus watched other children, other families, struggling to recover from the atrocities, including returning to school, and longed to do the same. When a U.S. missionary working in Rwanda for Esther’s Aid encountered him at age 9, she arranged for Justus to live in an orphanage and attend school. It was the culmination of a dream and an experience that determined everything he did afterward.

Justus became a standout student, learning five languages and tutoring younger children. As an eighth grader, he created Seven United, a club that went on to become a massive youth network dedicated to positively impacting the lives of poor students in schools and poor people generally across Rwanda. Seven United is now a youth-run non-profit in Rwanda with the dual mission of providing children from low-income families with access to quality education and of empowering young people to be servant-leaders in their communities. Justus created a U.S.-based branch of this organization for which he is the Board Director. Justus believes that education is a fundamental human right and an opportunity that everyone should be granted. He dreams of a world free of socio-economic inequality.

Currently, Justus is a college senior pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Economics at Harvard University with a minor in French. He is interested in the role of education and infrastructure in accelerating the growth of emerging economies. He was admitted two years ago into the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s two-year Social Enterprise Fellowship, also known as the Cheng Fellowship. Following his graduation this May, Justus will start his master's degree in Global Affairs as a Schwarzman Scholar at the elite Tsinghua University in Beijing.