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Sylvie Muhimpundu shares career goals following graduation

Who’s Who Among Students is a national award that recognizes students who excel in scholastic achievement. At Oklahoma Christian University, 125 students reached the Who’s Who list. In an upper level journalism class, students interviewed 13 names off of the list. 

By Grace Nduwimana

Following graduation, Sylvie Muhimpundu is taking her biochemistry degree on a new adventure with hopes of becoming an oncologist.

Muhimpundu was born March 15, 1995, to in Kigali, Rwanda and is the third of five children. Her father Innocent Karemera works in insurance, and her mother Marianne Uwimana is a retired sociologist. Muhimpundu said she credits her parents with instilling a good work ethic and compassion for others.

Muhimpundu graduated from Lycée Notre Dame des Citeaux in 2013 as one of the top students, which opened the door to her receiving national recognition and being selected for the Rwanda presidential scholarship.

After receiving the presidential scholarship, Muhimpundu began her time at Oklahoma Christian University in August 2013 on a full-ride scholarship. She said her transition was difficult because she mainly spoke French and Kinyarwanda, and she had to learn English quickly to be able to perform well in school.

Once she graduates, Muhimpundu said she plans to go to medical school. She said growing up she wanted to become an oncologist — a medical practitioner qualified to diagnose and treat tumors — even though her father pushed her to study business.

Alongside with the challenge of learning a new language to participate in classes in the United States, Muhimpundu said she learned it is difficult for an international student to get into medical school. Her plan is to attend graduate school, studying public health with an emphasis in global health, then apply for medical school.

Muhimpundu is involved in extracurricular activities including the social service club Phi Omega Nu, Chroma — an international students club — and is active in attending mission trips to Rwanda with the Health for Rwanda organization. She works as a MASH tutor, teacher’s assistant and research assistant. Muhimpundu is a member of the Philiatros organization, a group of Oklahoma Christian students who are interested in careers in the biomedical and health care fields.

Q: Since you grew up Catholic, what did you think of the Church of Christ when you first attended Oklahoma Christian?

A: Not too much. Because I went to a Catholic high school I was familiar with having a lot of religious rules. Actually, I used to laugh at the curfew at midnight thing. Why not 10 p.m. or 6 p.m.? I was never bothered. The transition was not shocking in that aspect.

Q: What do you want to do after medical school?

A: I want to move back home and be a doctor. I think that I am needed more there than here. We don’t have enough doctors.

Q: If you could change anything about the way Rwandans think of medicine what would you change?

A: I would like to change their mentality of going to see a doctor only when it’s too late. So many lives would change if they would go see a doctor when they first start having issues. I know that poverty lends to this issue but the stigma remains even within the affluent people. I hope to help people recognize that.

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