Banaa Scholars

So far, five Banaa Scholars have started the program. These incredibly talented students were selected among dozens of inspiring applicants.

The four current Banaa Scholars with two of's Co-founders

The four current Banaa Scholars, Jacob, Salva, Sameer, and Mohamed, with’s Co-founders Justin and Evan

Banaa works hard to build an ethnically and academically diverse applicant pool. As a result of long-standing gender roles in many Sudanese cultures, academically qualified women have proven more difficult to identify. Banaa is working very hard to identify qualified women, because women’s empowerment is one of the most vital factors for economic development and peace-building.

Banaa candidates are evaluated not only on their academic record, but on their demonstrated commitment to peace. They apply to for a Banaa Scholarship knowing that their acceptance is contingent on at least seven years of public service for marginalized communities in Sudan.

The five Banaa scholars have performed remarkably. Click on their profile to learn more:

Banaa Scholars

Makwei Mabioor Deng

George Washington University Alumnus (Class of 2012)

Majors: Philosophy & Economics

You can contact Makwei at

When Makwei was 6 years old, he and his family were forced to flee the violence in his birthplace of Kongor, South Sudan. He grew up in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, where excelled in school and rose to the top of his class. After attending high school on a local Jesuit scholarship, he returned to Kakuma to be a teacher, because he could not afford college. Makwei was admitted to GWU on the very first Banaa scholarship and he is the first Banaa scholar to receive his degree. He graduated this past Spring with a degree in Philosophy and Economics.

Read More about Makwei

Mohamed Ahmed

The University of Rochester Alumnus (class of 2014)

Majors: Financial Economics and Political Science

You can contact Mohamed at

Mohamed grew up in a small town in Darfur near an African Union peacekeeping base and learned English by interacting with the troops there.  Mohamed, the second student to receive a Banaa scholarship, is now studying Economics and Political Science at the University of Rochester, where his charisma and personality have made him a very popular student. As a sophomore at the University of Rochester Mohamed took a leadership position as President of the African Students Association.  This Summer he interned at Human Rights Watch in New York City. Mohamed continues to look for opportunities to learn about peace building so one day he can return to Darfur.

Read More about Mohamed

Sameer Kuku Kafur

The University of Rochester

 (class of 2015)

Desired Major: Economics and Philosophy

You can contact Sameer at

Sameer has developed a nuanced understanding of the complex sociological and political forces at work in his native Nuba Mountains, where there is “no war, but no peace.” He seeks an education that will help him promote “balanced” development in Sudan. Sameer’s dedication to the Nuba Mountains is unwavering as he is constantly engaging on the situation that his family and friends face. Sameer is an active member of the Diaspora group, the Nuba Mt. Association.  In his current work he is assisting humanitarian Ryan Boyette with translation and transcription of videos he sending  from the Sudans.

Read More about Sameer

Salva KuacSalva Kuac Barjok

The University of Rochester

Senior (class of 2017)

Major: Economics and Philosophy

You can contact Salva

Though Salva has moved many times throughout his life to escape the war, he always worked towards his goal to settle and receive an education in Uganda. After receiving his certificate of education he has returned to South Sudan where he shows initiative for peacebuilding by attending public academic seminars and writing many articles for public websites and prominent newspapers in South Sudan.

Read More About Salva

Jacob Mator AketchJacob Mator Aketch

George Washington University

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Freshman (class of 2017)

Major: Civil Engineering

You can contact Jacob at

Jacob is passionate about peace-building in his home country and thrives to create a stable South Sudan where future generations can enjoy peace, liberty, and prosperity. He has focused on civil engineering because he believes that proper infrastructure will help South Sudan thrive in national reconstruction and peace maintenance. He has proven a dedicated student, first enrolling in AIC MOI Academy through the Sudan Scholarship Foundation and continuing with the Foundation of Engineering Program at The University of Nottingham Malaysia.

Read More About Jacob