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Ending one chapter, with more to come

Four years ago, Esther Rugoli arrived in Pullman from Rwanda to study agriculture, with the goal of returning home with more knowledge. She’s on track to finish her coursework in the spring 2020 semester and graduate on time, but she’s not going home just yet.

Rugoli stands with arms crossed in front of a tree.
Esther Rugoli

Rugoli heads off to McGill University in Canada, where she’s enrolling in a graduate program to learn more about agricultural biotechnology, her major at WSU. That’s in line with her goals to one day return to her native Africa and help farmers.

“I want to make an impact in agriculture, working in plant genetics,” Rugoli said. “Right now I’m focused on my education, and hope to get a Ph.D. eventually, but then I will take what I’ve learned to help people in Africa.”

When she arrived in the fall of 2016, Rugoli didn’t speak English well and struggled to fit in. But she adjusted to a very different lifestyle and has become a true Coug in her years on campus.

“I’ve had so many life-changing opportunities at WSU,” she said. “I’ve worked outside the classroom with amazing scientists, which has been almost as important as what I’ve learned in the classroom.”

Rugoli arrived in Pullman after attending a small, prestigious high school in Rwanda and earning a scholarship for her education from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation through the Rwanda Girls Initiative. She could have used the scholarship at any university in the world, but chose WSU.

Although she is sad she won’t be able to have a normal graduation ceremony this month, she’s grateful for the experiences she has gotten and has no regrets about her choice to enroll at WSU. She said she’s received a great deal of help from professors, who have answered countless questions she’s had, and from other WSU staff and her advisor.

“It took a little time to adjust, but now I like it here and will miss Pullman,” Rugoli said. “I like being a Coug because now it feels like home.”

Media Contacts

Scott Weybright, Public Relations/Communications Coordinator, 509-335-2967