The African Lion meets the Fighting Irish: The 2022 Mandela Washington Fellowship at Notre Dame

Author: Sarah Genz

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The Pulte Institute for Global Development, part of the Keough School of Global Affairs, was honored to welcome 25 emerging professionals from 17 African countries to the University of Notre Dame for the 2022 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders program. This was the first in-person version of the Fellowship since 2019, and Fellows and staff alike were thrilled by the opportunity to create connections face to face. 

Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by IREX, the Mandela Washington Fellowship program has had a home at Notre Dame since its inception in 2014. The Fellows always leave a lasting mark on the University and the surrounding South Bend area because of their willingness to share their culture, time, and talents with various organizations in the community. 

2022 MWF Arrive in Chicago
The Fellows are welcomed at ORD by program staff.

The Fellows arrived on campus on June 8th for a six-week Leadership in Business Institute, which included a variety of academic sessions led by faculty and staff from across campus, including: 

  • Matthew Gardner, Managing Principal of Pit Road Fund, IDEA Center
  • John Henry, Director of Student Start-Ups, IDEA Center
  • Edward Jurkovic, Program Manager II, Pulte Institute for Global Development
  • Jennifer Krauser, Senior Program Manager, Pulte Institute for Global Development
  • Angela Logan, St. Andre Bessette Academic Director of the Master of Nonprofit Administration Program and Associate Teaching Professor, Mendoza College of Business
  • Eric Love, Director of Staff Diversity and Inclusion, University of Notre Dame
  • John Michel, Associate Teaching Professor, Management & Organization, Mendoza College of Business
  • Sam Miller, Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Minor and Associate Teaching Professor, Mendoza College of Business
  • Melissa Paulsen, Entrepreneurship and Education Program Director, Pulte Institute for Global Development; Term Assistant Teaching Professor, Keough School of Global Affairs
  • Tom Purekal, Innovation and Practice Program Director, Pulte Institute for Global Development
  • Chris Stevens, Associate Teaching Professor, Management & Organization, Mendoza College of Business
MWF and Eric Love
Eric Love, director of staff diversity and inclusion,
addresses Fellows during a session focused
on Inclusion and Servant Leadership.

Through these academic sessions, and by collaborating one on one with coaches, the Fellows further developed innovative projects to implement when they return to their countries. Their work will positively impact their local contexts, with the potential to influence and impact the larger African continent. These projects are entrepreneurial endeavors across a range of sectors, including healthcare, youth employment, robotics, women empowerment, disability advocacy, education, financial literacy, and more.

Engagement with the community is an integral part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship. Fellows completed 400 total hours of community service throughout the six-week program, which included maintenance work for Unity Gardens, hosting carnival games at First Fridays in Downtown South Bend, and moving furniture for Afghan refugee families new to the community. The Fellows found the work incredibly rewarding and a great way to connect with members of the Michiana community who have different backgrounds and perspectives.

MWF Indiana Capitol
Fellows visited the Indiana State Capitol building, visiting the House,
Senate and Supreme Court chambers and learning
about the Indiana state legislative process.

Site visits to Detroit, Chicago, and Indianapolis also provided Fellows with the opportunity to network with prominent business and government leaders, encounter more urban locations within the U.S., and experience the rich cultural landscape of the region. One notable moment during the Indianapolis site visit occurred when the Notre Dame and Purdue Fellows had the opportunity to meet with Karrah Herring, former Director of Public Affairs at the University of Notre and now Chief Equity, Inclusion, and Opportunity Officer for the State of Indiana. Herring spoke about the range of diversity initiatives her team is planning to increase access to education and economic opportunities in the state, and provided encouragement to the Fellows to continue down their paths of “improving the quality of life for the citizens of our respective nations.” 

Fellows enjoyed a South Bend Cubs game
on the 4th of July.

But it was not all work for the Fellows in South Bend. Whitewater rafting, host family dinners, escape rooms with the ESTEEM graduate program, and 4th of July fireworks at the South Bend Cubs were just a few of the fun activities the Fellows engaged in to experience the city. The program culminated in an emotional graduation ceremony in the Main Building. 

“Every day brought new challenges and experiences, but this is just the beginning. We now have the opportunity and the responsibility to take the knowledge and experience we have gained here to build a better Africa,” said Paulo Mpokwa, a Fellow from Tanzania, during his graduation ceremony remarks. “As social entrepreneurs, the journey we walk can be tough, but as Isaac Newton once said, ‘if I am able to see further, it’s only because I stood on the shoulders of giants.’ Fellows, we now have a giant of our own. It’s called Notre Dame.” 

The Mandela Washington Fellowship program not only increases connections between staff and Fellows, but also between the University of Notre Dame and the African continent. 

Pulte Institute Executive Director, Michael Sweikar, has been hosting the Fellows at his home since the program first came to Notre Dame in 2014. “The Pulte Institute has been blessed by the relationships we continue to grow through the Mandela Washington Fellowship program. The accomplishments these Fellows will undoubtedly achieve is sure to make the entire Notre Dame community proud and reflect the university’s mission of being a force for good in the world.”

Etuhole Efraim from Namibia gave these concluding remarks at the ceremony that insightfully sum up the exchange that occurs through this program: 

“What mark will I leave? How will anyone know I have been here? What sign will tell the future generation that I existed? Imagine the mighty African lion combined with the relentless spirit of the Fighting Irish. That is what we are now.” 

The Mandela Washington Fellowship at Notre Dame is hosted by the Pulte Institute’s Entrepreneurship and Education Division and would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of  Melissa Paulsen, Ed Jurkovic, and Jennifer Krauser; as well as Community Consultant John Pinter, undergraduate student intern Lynsee Ludwick (BBA ‘23), photography intern John McKean, and summer coordinator Sarah Genz (MNA ‘22). To learn more about the Mandela Washington Fellowship at Notre Dame, visit

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit and join the conversation at #YALI2022.

Originally published by Sarah Genz at on August 10, 2022.