ALA alumnus Beauclaire Mbanya ’14 is Cameroon’s First Rhodes Scholar

Alumnus Beauclaire Mbanya ’14 has been announced as a winner of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship! Beauclaire will be the first ever Rhodes Scholar ever from his home nation of Cameroon, and will receive a full scholarship for graduate studies at the University of Oxford beginning in September 2021. He is one of only two students selected worldwide from all countries not in a Rhodes competition zone.

A chemical engineer by training, Beauclaire focuses on Energy Resource Management and Public Policy.  “My interest is in understanding energy resource policy options that could facilitate infrastructure development in developing countries,” says Beauclaire. At Oxford, he seeks to be trained as “a renewable energy scientist involved in energy conversion, systems and storage research,” studying the intersection of sustainable energy, technology and policy development. Beauclaire aspires to bring renewable and sustainable energy to all corners of the African continent. He is driven by his awareness of the depth of energy poverty in his native country: close to 40% of Cameroonians do not have access to electricity.

After discovering his passions at ALA, Beauclaire attended the University of Rochester. While an undergraduate, conducted a greenhouse emissions savings analysis for University Medical Center’s integration of solar power. He co-authored an action plan proposal with energy savings recommendations based on the greenhouse emission analysis. In 2017, Beauclaire co-founded the non-profit called CareforSeven, an organization developing energy innovators in the Global South. During the summer of 2018, Beauclaire travelled to Lagos, Nigeria to implement the project “Bright Hands” at the community level. Aimed at addressing SDG 7, Bright Hands taught secondary school students from energy deprived, low income areas to build solar chargers.

But Beauclaire’s impact goes far beyond renewable energy, as he seeks to address deep societal and political challenges in his native country. He was named a student leader by Teach for All for his work with the non-profit that he founded while at ALA, called Cameroon Youth Reform Initiative. This successful program sought to develop the critical thinking skills of young Cameroonians.

Shortly before his graduation from the University of Rochester in May 2020, Beauclaire won the Davis Projects for Peace prize for his project Togetherness for Peace (TFP), which supports displaced women and violent offenders in Cameroon. This project was featured in BBC News Pidgin because of its impact in the local community. Togetherness for Peace has two core activities: it provides psychosocial, entrepreneurship skills training and small startup capital to internally displaced women; and it offers vocational training to prisoners as they reintegrate into society. Over 200 prisoners and 30 internally displaced women have benefited from TFP programs.

Today, Beauclaire is a Schwarzman Scholar at the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, where he is pursuing his Master’s Degree in Global Affairs. He has spent the past term studying remotely while living with his ALA host family, and serving as a volunteer in the University of Rochester Central Utility and Energy Management Unit.

A native of Bamenda, Cameroon, Beauclaire came to ALA from Sacred Heart Mankon. After finishing high school, Beauclaire was accepted to ALA and moved to Honeydew, Johannesburg to start his leadership journey at ALA. Congratulations, Beauclaire!