The New Faces of Westchester: Alain Rwabukamba

A victim of the Rwandan genocide now teaching at Manhattan College.

Alain Rwabukamba, Rwanda

“I was born in a rural area of Rwanda and raised in a family of six,” says Alain Rwabukamba. “If genocide never happened, if my mom never died, I would never have come to America.”  Rwabukamba immigrated to the US at 17 at the invitation of his American family. Through their initiation, he received a scholarship to attend The Harvey School. Now, six years later, he is pursuing his master’s degree in engineering and working as a graduate teaching assistant at Manhattan College. 

My Story: “Through a set of fortuitous circumstances, I was able to create a new life in America. My aunt had married an American, which facilitated my brother coming to America, and he encouraged me to learn English. I developed an interest in math and a fascination for technology. Learning English became a passport in my quest to access technology. At 15, I moved to [English-speaking] Kenya. When I was 16, my brother requested that I translate for my cousin, her friend, and her dad’s friend, who were traveling to Rwanda to volunteer at an orphanage. This led to an opportunity to come to America. My American family was a very big help in introducing me to the community and building my life. Everywhere I went, everyone was kind to me—at my high school, church, and college. I was well supported by each community.”

My biggest accomplishment: “Graduating college and going for a master’s in engineering. I never thought I would go to college. And, most importantly, having a summer internship with IBM—it was a dream come true!” 

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