International student returning home with a master’s degree

LIONEL ISHIMWE

AGE: 25

HOME: KIGALI, RWANDA

MAJOR: CIVIL ENGINEERING

HOBBY: PLAYING BASKETBALL AND SOCCER

FAVORITE SAYING: RWANDAN RIDDLES THAT REMIND HIM OF HOME

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This coming May, Lionel Ishimwe will graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a master’s degree in water resources engineering.

A proud Rwandan, Ishimwe plans to take his skills back to Kigali upon graduation. Through his time in the United States, the biggest difference that he has seen is the efficiency of his field – construction.

“I want to be able to bring something back to my country. I want to bring the efficiency, and to make construction more profitable,” he said.

Since coming to the United States six years ago, Ishimwe’s personal mission has not changed.

“It was hard when I first got here, because I wanted to adapt and fit in without losing my identity,” he said. “I always want to represent my culture.”

In 2010, Ishimwe graduated high school from Kigali International Community School, in Rwanda. His parents wanted him to go to school in the United States, and landing in Lincoln, Nebraska was not random.

His family are members of the Seventh-day Adventist church, and his older sister got her credentials for higher education through the church to attend Union College in Lincoln following her undergrad.

He decided to attend college at UNL to be close to his sister. He now lives in Lincoln as the legal guardian of his little brother, who is a senior attending College View Academy.

There is a lot of things that Ishimwe shares with his family, but his last name is not one of them. In Rwandan culture, it is customary for the parents to choose both a first, and a last name for their child.

“You are going to create your own family, so you have your own last name,” he said.

Ishimwe has enjoyed his time in Nebraska, but is excited for the future. He aspires to become a civil engineer in his home of Kigali, Rwanda.

 

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