Sending Help Home

Chance landed Judyth Nsababera at Rutgers. Challenging coursework, receptive faculty, and supportive students helped her realize her plans to help others.

High school students can spend months, even years, scouring websites and taking road trips to help them decide on a college. But not Judyth Nsababera. The daughter of Rwandese diplomats who relocated with her family to Uganda during the 1994 genocide, Judyth came to the United States in 2001. Living in California but heading east for modeling work, and with little knowledge of the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area in 2003, she found several area schools on the web, wrote their names on scrap paper, put the slips in a glass bowl, and picked out “Rutgers.”

“So I moved to New Jersey and began commuting to Rutgers,” says Judyth. She also worked as a youth counselor at Saint Michael’s Medical Center in Newark. “I helped kids walking in off the streets of Newark,” she says. “Kids in Africa aren’t able to just walk into hospitals for advice and treatment, and I thought, maybe I could begin to change that.”

Small Start

In 2005, Judyth founded the nonprofit organization Project Hope for Africa to help young Africans affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and began to recruit volunteers and contributions of money and clothing.

“I remember in the beginning picking whether to do my homework or write a grant proposal. It was extremely hard to manage my time among work, school, and my nonprofit organization, but now I am used to it and I love it,” she says.

I look at where I am now and I can say Rutgers definitely helped me achieve my goals.

–Judyth Nsababera, public health major

Finding Support

“My professors have been extremely supportive when they hear about the work we are trying to do. I’m especially grateful to Professor Meredeth Turshen. Her class on HIV and AIDS really helped me to decide on a public health major. It became clear to me that it’s what I’m passionate about, how to get the word out to people about the tools around them that can help them be healthy.”

Now a senior at Rutgers’ Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy in New Brunswick, Judyth says success is tied to engaging young people at schools like Rutgers. She believes she recently took a major step, thanks to a story she penned for the spring 2010 newsletter published by Rutgers’ Center for African Studies. “I’ve already received 112 emails from fellow students offering their assistance,” she says.