Princeton in Africa & The Rwanda School Project

“Princeton in Africa’s mission to give young leaders the opportunity to serve in Africa is a model…Working in every field from public health to conservation to conflict resolution, PiAf Fellows improve the lives of everyday Africans in tangible and significant ways.”

Bill Clinton
Former U.S. President

We would like to share with you the story of our partnership with the Rwanda School Project and the Rwamagana Leaders’ School in Rwanda. We placed our first Fellow with the Rwanda School Project in 2014, and since have placed 6 Fellows with their school in Rwamagana. Our Fellows support the Rwanda School Project’s mission to provide high-quality secondary education in Rwanda. Their organization works to develop future young leaders and problem solvers, just as PiAf is committed to leadership development on the continent. 

In the 2022-23 fellowship year, we’ve placed two excellent young professionals with the Rwanda School Project: Maya McHugh and Lauryn Spinetta. 

Maya is a graduate of Princeton University, Class of 2022, where she studied Civil and Environmental Engineering. She is now heavily involved in the environmental studies curriculum of the Rwamagana Leaders’ School, as she teaches an environmental studies class to the younger grade (8th-grade equivalent). She involves her students in group discussions, shows informative videos and plans lessons surrounding sustainability in Rwanda. 

Lauryn is also a Princeton University graduate of the Class of 2022, where she studied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Lauryn is working with Rwamagana Leaders’ School students who recently graduated and want to apply to universities outside of Rwanda. She is helping them grow their digital essay-writing and typing skills in English. Lauryn and Maya have been working closely with the Computer Science teacher to make the computer lab available every day after school as a resource that students can use. 

Part of the core of our mission is to have our Fellows work closely with young Africans every day. Our Fellows support African communities, individuals and organizations doing incredible work.

For nearly 24 years, Princeton in Africa has offered life-changing opportunities for young leaders. Our Fellows grow personally and professionally throughout their 12-month placements with some of the most impactful organizations on the African continent.

In 2023, we are expanding our impact. We are piloting Nexus in addition to our general Fellowship. This pilot will pair Africa Fellows educated and residents on the African continent with North America Fellows educated at U.S. accredited institutions for a co-fellow exchange of skills, knowledge, leadership, and technical expertise at some of the most impactful organizations in Africa, furthering the urgent missions of development and change on the continent. Read more about Nexus here.

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Read about our alumni

Read about our current Fellows and host organizations.

Please read more about the impact our Fellows can make over a 12-month period.

Our History

In 1999, a group of Princeton alumni, faculty, and staff launched Princeton in Africa as an independent affiliate of Princeton University inspired by the University’s informal motto, “Princeton in the Nation’s Service and in the Service of All Nations.” In 2010, the program opened up to include graduates of any US accredited university in order to meet the growing demand from host organizations and allow more young professionals access to the unique opportunities afforded by PiAf. During the past 20 years, we have placed over 600 Fellows with more than 100 organizations in 36 countries, while developing more strategic partnerships across Africa and creating more opportunities for our alumni community to engage with the continent and with one another.


The International Rescue Committee has been so fortunate to have had a longstanding relationship with Princeton in Africa since our very first Fellows landed in Rwanda in 1999.  Whether it was Emily or Renee in 1999 or the 110 Fellows across 14 IRC countries over the years, we have been blessed by the relationship, the quality of the Fellows and the impact on what IRC does on the ground every single day.

Brian Johnson
Chief Human Resources Officer
International Rescue Committee

My fellowship has been the most impactful personal and professional development opportunity of my life. I wanted a post-college experience that would push my limits, expand my comfort zone, and help me discern the next steps in my career journey. And this has been the case.

Ryan Elliott
2014-15 Fellow
Baylor Pediatric AIDS Initiative in Lesotho

I can honestly say that this year has changed my life and my view of what’s possible for the future. Princeton in Africa isn’t just a one-year fellowship, it’s an introduction to a particular way of life and a new way of thinking about the world. I feel like so many doors are open now that I never would have considered before.

Katie Fackler
2010-11 Fellow
UN World Food Programme

My Princeton in Africa fellowship was everything I could have hoped for and much more. The myriad of experiences makes my head swim, and it has strengthened my desire to help underserved populations worldwide.

David Bartels
2006-2007 Fellow
Baylor Pediatric AIDS Initiative

Princeton in Africa was an invaluable experience for me. I learned an infinite amount through my work and through living in Uganda. I also realized that I want to continue working on African issues as long as I can.

Alexis Okeowo
2006-2007 Fellow
The New Vision

The International Rescue Committee’s experience with Princeton in Africa has been exceptional. Each Fellow brings excellent writing and analytical skills as well as unique interests and passions that enrich the program and the field office environment. We were so pleased we expanded the program to more field offices.

Susan Riehl
Human Resources, IRC

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has been working in Africa for over 11 years through its Secure the Future program.  One common theme in all aspects of program implementation is having passionate, energetic individuals on the ground who can think outside the box and then transfer the skills for sustainability.  The Princeton In Africa Fellows have been a huge asset in this regard and our programs and patients have been better for it.

John Damonti
President, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation