Alumni and Friends

A significant number of African scholars have graduated from Penn State with Bachelors, Masters or Doctoral Degrees.  They now live all over the world, although many have returned to their own country, and many remain connected with the University.  At the same time we have many friends–individuals and organizations who, along with our alumni, have made significant contributions to the success of Penn State’s engagement in Africa.

Our alumni and friends have started local chapters of the Penn State Alumni Association, providing networks for social and professional support across the continent; they have served as sources of local information for research programs; and they have served as educators and guest speakers in educational programs on campus and in Africa.

We want you to meet some of our friends here. The list will grow as we compile more stories — so check back frequently and see what your fellow Penn Staters and our friends are doing.  If you want to get involved, let us know.  It is also difficult to keep track of people once they graduate and move away from Happy Valley — so use the comment area below and let us know who you are, where you live now, and what you have been doing since you left.  There will be many of your classmates who would like to know, and there may be other Penn Staters in your area who would like to connect with another alum.

Meet Some Friends:

Lindiwe Sangweni-Siddo, Salifou Siddo and Sizwe Mabizela:  Sizwe, Lindiwe and her husband Salifou are all Penn State graduates and together they are in the process of forming a South African Chapter of the Alumni Association.  Sizwe graduated in 1991 with a Ph.D. in mathematics and is now Deputy Vice Chancellor at Rhodes University.  Salifou graduated with a Doctorate in Communications and is now Chief Executive of the South African Tourism Enterprise Partnership.  Lindiwe graduated with a BSc in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management and is now the Director and Chief Executive Officer of The Zatic Group, and owner and manager of the Soweto Hotel. They will be hosting the inaugural meeting of the new alumni group at a reception with Penn State Vice Provost Michael Adewumi at the Soweto Hotel in December.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization office in Kenya, and in particular Paul Njuguna and Ola Altera have played a large role in the success of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program in Kenya.  They meet with students, provide contacts and also help find locations for establishing HESE projects


Jan Venter, an ecologist with the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA), was instrumental in helping establish the Parks and People: South Africa program and bringing ECPTA in as a partner in the program with Penn State and the University of Cape Town.  Jan has been crucial in coordinating appropriate research projects, working with students to understand the implications of the program on the Wild Coast environment (both social and environmental implications), and has also been a consistent voice to help students grasp the South African perspective.


Two Penn State alumni have been key to helping develop academic linkages in Kenya for Penn State’s work with the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre.  Wanjiru Gichuhi received her PhD in Rural Sociology and Demography from Penn State and is currently a lecturer in the Population Studies Research Institute at the University of Nairobi.  Dr. Gichuhi is currently collaborating with PSU researchers on an assessment of Aflatoun, a financial literacy and life skills program for children.   Kamau Gachigi received his PhD in Material Science from Penn State and is Chairman and Coordinator of the University of Nairobi Science and Technology Park.  Dr. Gachigi is supporting an initiative to use electronic waste to make jewelry and other saleable items with PSU Berks and the CYEC.


The Children and Youth Empowerment Centre, Nyeri, Kenya.  The CYEC has opened its doors to Penn State researchers, extension personnel and students.  The PSU-CYEC collaboration has given our students a real-world environment in which to learn and test theories.  They have provided logistical support, connections to community institutions, insight into local culture and most significantly, partnership and friendship.