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Obama Hails Dartmouth Fellow at Young African Leaders Event

Aug 16, 2015   |   Dartmouth Now

President Barack Obama called out Dartmouth fellow Jamila Mayanja from a crowd of hundreds of young African leaders at a summit for the president’s Washington Mandela Fellowship program Monday, sharing a laugh with the Ugandan entrepreneur.

Mayanja was at Dartmouth for the month of July as one of 25 fellows from the Young African Leaders Initiative, an Obama administration program that brings some 500 innovators from across Africa to develop business, leadership, and networking skills at U.S. colleges and businesses.

When Obama recognized Mayanja for her work founding a socially conscious business, a cheer went up from the crowd. Mayanja jumped to her feet smiling, hands on hips, and greeted the president.

“Are you posing?” the president said to laughter. “She's posing,” he said, mimicking her stance. “Jamila is not a fashion model. She started a door-to-door laundry company to employ Ugandan youth and teach them entrepreneurial skills.”

“She hopes to take what she learned during her time at Dartmouth University to meet her goal of getting 1,000 youth to work in or run their own business, so we're proud to be your partner,” the president said.

“I can't describe that moment,” Mayanja said. “It was amazing for me to have him recognize the work we are doing and also for our partners back home to see that our work is making a difference.”

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