I am Smith

Belise Bwiza

Belise Bwiza Portrait
About Belise

Class of 2020

Kigali, Rwanda

Economics

Conference Chair, Smith African and Caribbean Students’ Association (SACSA)

First-Generation Student Alliance of Smith College

Smith College Model United Nations

Scholarship Recipient

Why did you choose to come to Smith?
“I wanted to live in an empowering environment where all student positions are taken by women—an environment of ambitious, ferocious and intelligent women.”

What are you studying?
“I have explored a lot of classes, but I am mostly interested in economics. I am from a developing sub-Saharan country in Africa, and I feel completely absorbed in my Economic Development class. I know we won't eradicate all the poverty in my country, but I want to be part of any possibility that we will.”

What is an accomplishment you are particularly proud of?
“In 2014, I was among the top ten women of the year in my country, in part because my debate team won the national league that year—the first time in history a girls’ team won the league. A typical girl in my country doesn’t express herself, so setting an example of girls aggressively defending their arguments in debate and knocking out other teams dominated by males is something I am really proud of. We created an easier path for our young sisters in our school and other parts of the country so it’s no longer a surprise when women win.”

Who has had the most impact on your life?
“My father. He never went to college, but nobody understands the importance of a good education more than him. Coming from a place where a woman’s biggest achievement is getting married, my father is among the few that actually believe in the full potential of women. He thinks that I am as smart as my brothers, even though he claims I am the smartest, and the fact that he believes in me so much is my greatest motivator.”

What is your favorite thing about Smith?
“The academic environment at Smith is like no other. Student engagement in class is incredible and professors are very committed to making students understand all the material being taught.”

“I know we won’t eradicate all the poverty in my country, but I want to be part of any possibility that we will.”

What do you want to do after you leave Smith?
“I want to go back and work with rural women in my country in order to lift them out of poverty, using the knowledge I am acquiring at Smith. I hope to continue my women’s empowerment projects in my country and make sure that we occupy the spaces that we deserve.”

How has your financial aid impacted you and your ability to come to Smith?
“I wouldn't have applied to Smith if I hadn’t dared to hope to receive financial aid. I also came to realize that if a school like Smith could use their resources to invest in me, it meant that I was actually worth something and that I would do big things in life, not only for myself, but also for my family and my country.”

Belise Bwiza holding a sign saying Thank you


Contact Us

To make an endowed gift or to learn more about supporting financial aid at Smith, please contact Betsy Carpenter ’93, director of development, at 413-585-2052 or ewcarpen@smith.edu.