Abayo sees graduation from Nebraska as an opportunity to change the world
May 11, 2022 | By Kelsey Eihausen
When Aline Abayo was making her college decision in her hometown of Kigali, Rwanda, she knew she wanted to experience new cultures and pursue a career in agriculture. It turns out the University of Nebraska-Lincoln 8,000 miles away was the right fit for her.
"I came to Lincoln because I believed that UNL was a great fit for me," Abayo said. "I also wanted to experience new cultures and get exposed to new opportunities that UNL has to offer."
This May, Abayo will graduate with her bachelor's in integrated sciences as part of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Undergraduate Scholar Program (CUSP). Part of a cohort of 50 scholars, the CUSP Program is an exchange program that supports Rwandan scholars to study priority topics identified by the country's Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.
My favorite thing about UNL is the community, the people. I am amazed by how everyone is supportive and friendly.
During her time at Nebraska, Abayo found a strong sense of community by getting involved with various student organizations and exploring research and student fellowship opportunities. Among her many accomplishments, she is a member of the University Honors Program, a Bureau of Business Research Scholar, a Clayton Yeutter Institute Student fellow and a research assistant at the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center.
"My favorite thing about UNL is the community, the people. I am amazed by how everyone is supportive and friendly. I also like how UNL community is committed toward everyone's growth and success," Abayo said.
That community and mentorship has spurred Abayo to her next adventure to Washington, D.C. where she has been awarded a full-time research internship upon her graduation through the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Abayo has been named a James C. Gaither Junior Fellow in the Carngie Endowment's Africa program.
Abayo's passion for international economics and agriculture policies was inspired by her research on coffee pricing economics, conducted under the guidance of Lia Nogueira, associate professor of agricultural economics. She also strove to support her interest in understanding pricing and marketing policies of coffee in developing countries through a research project titled, "The Analysis of Coffee Farmgate Prices in African Developing Countries: An Econometric Analysis."
"Aline's story demonstrates the success of our efforts to engage all UNL undergraduates in the co-creation of knowledge," said Amy Goodburn, senior associate vice chancellor and dean of undergraduate education. "The N2025 Strategic Plan prioritizes experiential learning to prepare our students to address critical issues facing Nebraska and the world. We hope that many UNL students will be inspired by Aline's path to success."
As a Gaither Junior Fellow, Abayo will assist scholars working in the Carnegie research programs and gain valuable work experience in international affairs. The prestigious program selects around 13 interns per year for this experience.
As she glances ahead to her future, Abayo hopes to someday pursue a PhD in trade and policies.
"When I look at graduation, I look at how much I've grown through all these years," Abayo said. "Graduation is more like me reflecting on how much I have acquired, and how much skills and how much personal growth I've had through these four years."
*Parts of this article are derived from this Nebraska Today article.
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