Marvin Lukas, a grade 11 student at Gatang Secondary School, will be the first South African to attend the School for Ethics and Global Leadership (SEGL) in Washington, DC, USA. The Mamelodi native’s participation in the program is trailblazing for South Africa and the continent as a whole; he is the first student to be sent from a school in Africa since SEGL’s inception in 2009. As a Mamelodi Initiative Scholar, Lukas will receive mentorship and financial support from the Mamelodi Initiative to enable his success in the program and beyond.

SEGL is a one-of-a-kind residential academic semester program for ‘highly motivated” high school students who represent the diversity of the United States, and increasingly, the world. During the semester, students have the opportunity to meet important political figures and world leaders such as US Senator Chuck Schumer and to learn from the likes of Lissa Muscatine, Hillary Clinton’s top speechwriter. Alumni of the semester program have moved on to attend top US universities such as Harvard, MIT, Princeton, and Yale. As the first student coming directly from Africa, Lukas will bring a valuable perspective to SEGL’s globally minded dialogue; in addition, he will learn about leadership and scholarship from the innovative school, becoming further equipped to be a leader of his country.

Lukas first found out about SEGL through his involvement with the Mamelodi Initiative. This past July and August, he connected with American high school learners who were working with the Mamelodi Initiative through a three-week SEGL service learning trip to South Africa. On his interactions with the American students, Lukas comments, “They showed me that anything is possible, all you have to do is work hard and be committed. The love I received from them was way out of this world. I [thought], ‘if they could do it, then I could do it.’ ”

With a bit of encouragement from Richard Kelley, founder of the Mamelodi Initiative and Dean of Residential Life at SEGL, he decided to apply. “I am excited that Marvin will be the first South African student at SEGL. There is no better candidate. Marvin perseveres in all that he does, and I am sure his time at SEGL will be no exception.” They will be reunited this June for the 2014 Mamelodi Initiative Winter Program.

About the Mamelodi Initiative: The Mamelodi Initiative is a volunteer-run non-profit organisation focused on improving the lives of residents in Mamelodi, South Africa. Through providing resources to enable community engagement and education, the Mamelodi Initiative strives to empower members of the community so that the community can make the changes it wants to see.

Photos available. Lukas and Kelley available for interview. For more information, contact Mische Kang at

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