Sandra Nivyabandi—Making a Difference

“My personal philosophy on leadership means making a difference, and Westminster College certainly helps you to make that difference,” says senior Sandra Nivyabandi from Burundi.

Nivyabandi’s fascinating experiences this past summer solidly reinforced her views on leadership.  Besides going to Rwanda and Tanzania with Humanity for Children, she and three other students traveled to Tindouf, Algeria, thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Davis Projects for Peace program, to help refugees in the Smara refugee camp.

Approximately 160,000 Saharawi people have lived in Smara and four other refugee camps spread across the Western Sahara Desert since 1975.  Many families now depend on humanitarian aid to survive because camp conditions are so severe.  These families have no access to fresh fruits and vegetables needed for a healthy diet.

Nivyabandi and her team’s project-Going Organic-in Smara Refugee Camp was to create a garden that would regulate diet, improve the quality of life of the refugees, and provide the people with a means of income.

The team was able to construct the organic garden, plant trees, and put in a drip irrigation system.  Due to the severe weather conditions there, seeds were not planted until early October.

“As a student double majoring in global health and transnational studies, this project has given me additional insight and background into my two major interests,” says Nivyabandi.  “It demonstrates how people both local and international working together can contribute to making a difference in the overall well-being and lives of people.”

She believes the daily interaction she experienced with people of varied cultures and traditions in a different geographical setting, has given her a great understanding of the diverse world we live in.

Nivyabandi has been making a difference both on and off campus since she first arrived from the United World College in Swaziland.  Her years at Westminster have been filled with achievements.

She is a member of the elite campus mystical leadership society Skulls of Seven, a Student Ambassador, a Shelby Davis Foundation Scholar, and one of the nation’s Newman Civic Fellows.   She is an honors program student and has presented at the campus wide undergraduate scholars forum.  Nivyabandi is Social Chair of the African Union Organization, a Certified Peer Health Educator, a member of Amnesty International, and the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Think Tank.

Visit to listen to Sandra talk about leadership at Westminster College.

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