Luther alumna Cynthia Kamikazi named the 2018 Young Alumni Award recipient

June 13, 2019

Luther College has awarded Cynthia Kamikazi the Young Alumni Award recipient for 2018. Kamikazi, Luther class of 2005, currently serves at the African Development Bank as the chief for partnerships and resource mobilization in the Gender, Women and Civil Society Department. Kamikazi’s team ensures women’s economic development by providing support for the 54 member countries, inclusive financial services for women and advocating equal rights for all.

The Young Alumni Award recognizes Luther alumni who have graduated in the past 15 years who have rendered notable services to their profession and society in their vocation or avocation. Recipients have demonstrated significant professional achievement, leadership abilities and distinctive service to Luther or society. Their record of commitment, leadership, character and ethics exemplify the college mission.

The award was presented to Kamikazi at the 2019 Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 26.

During her childhood Kamikazi and her family moved between Burundi and Rwanda, primarily living as refugees in Burundi. The decades-long killings occuring in Rwanda that led to her displaced childhood culminated in genocide. As Kamikazi and her family returned to Rwanda in 1994 the devastation caused her to ask how the international community, particularly the United Nations, could have allowed this to happen. At the young age of 12, Kamikazi began thinking of how to get into the UN’s management to keep this from ever happening again.

Kamikazi graduated from Luther in three and a half years with majors in psychology, business and French. She then earned a master’s degree in human rights from the University of Essex in the United Kingdom, and achieved her dream of becoming a human rights project coordinator for the Lutheran World Federation at the United Nations. She was then recruited to advise the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2010, Kamikazi began working with Gavi, the global Alliance for vaccine and immunization, influencing policymakers in the developing world to invest in vaccines. Kamikazi began her current work at African Development Bank in 2013.

When speaking of her work Kamikazi said: “Sustainably addressing development challenges in Africa is key to preventing grave human tragedies like Rwanda’s 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. This is what drives me every day to make a difference, to do everything I can to make sure that no young child anywhere in the world ever has to experience the death and destruction I saw growing up.”

Cynthia and her husband, Eric and daughter, Kalize (age 3 ½), live in Sergy, France, near Geneva, and also own a small coffee plantation in her home country of Rwanda.

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