Mugisha was selected from almost 7,000 nominations and applications from 150 countries.
The Varkey Foundation partnered with Chegg.org to launch the annual Global Student Prize last year, a sister award to its US$1 million Global Teacher Prize. It was established to create a powerful new platform that shines a light on the efforts of extraordinary students everywhere who, together, are reshaping the world for the better. The prize is open to all students who are at least 16 years old and enrolled in an academic institution or training and skills program. Part-time students as well as students enrolled in online courses are also eligible for the prize.
Mugisha is an entrepreneur, public speaker, mentor, and youth advocate whose goal is to improve the living standards of people from underserved communities. He has initiated and led several social impact projects aimed at solving pressing challenges in his native Rwanda and beyond. He is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer for INFIM AG-TRANSFORM AFRICA, a Rwanda based professional consultancy and manufacturer dealing in agricultural production, supply-chain, and project development. Mugisha is also the co-founder and Director of MHF, an integrated farming system that allows users to produce foods at home without leaving the house or tilling land. He also founded and currently serves as the Executive Director of PANGELASSA REVIVAL, a non-profit that aims to solve the problems of social exclusion among communities.
A talented and inspiring speaker, Mugisha has served as the Public Speaking and Debate Coach and Judge at the iDebate Rwanda, an NGO that is using debate to change the lives of young Rwandans and East Africans by equipping students with public speaking and critical thinking skills. He is also a Mathematics and English peer tutor at university, and has worked for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Rwanda, as well as United Nations Volunteers in Disaster and Humanitarian Relief where he assisted refugees in resettlement and helped with family reunification.
Commenting on the development ; Dan Rosensweig, CEO of Chegg, said that the Global Student Prize launched last year has given incredible students all over the world a chance to share their stories, connect with each other, and reach influencers in education and beyond.
"Now, more than ever, students like Ernest deserve to have their stories told and have their voices heard. After all, we need to harness their dreams, their insights, and their creativity to tackle the daunting and urgent challenges facing our world," he noted.
“Our finalists this year have made a huge impact in areas from the environment to equality and justice, from health and wellbeing to education and skills, from youth empowerment to ending poverty. I can’t wait to see how this year’s inspiring cohort of changemakers use this platform to make their voices louder, and their work lift up even more lives,” Rosensweig added.
Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation has extended warmest congratulations to Ernest and observed that his story is a testament to the crucial role that education plays in building a better tomorrow for all.
“It is the key to solving humanity’s greatest challenges, from war and conflict to climate change to growing inequality. As time runs out to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, it is more important than ever to prioritize education so we can face the future with confidence,” he said.
Applications and nominations for this year’s Global Student Prize opened on Thursday 27 January and closed on Sunday 1 May. Students are being assessed on their academic achievement, impact on their peers, how they make a difference in their community and beyond, how they overcome the odds to achieve, how they demonstrate creativity and innovation, and how they operate as global citizens.
Last year’s winner was Jeremiah Thoronka, a 21-year-old student from Sierra Leone, who launched a start-up called Optim Energy that transforms vibrations from vehicles and pedestrian footfall on roads into an electric current. With just two devices, the start-up provided free electricity to 150 households comprising around 1,500 citizens, as well as 15 schools where more than 9,000 students attend.
The top 10 finalists of the Global Student Prize are expected to be announced in August this year. The winner, who will be announced later in the year, will be chosen from the top 10 finalists by the Global Student Prize Academy, made up of prominent individuals.
If students were nominated, the person nominating them was asked to write a brief description online explaining why. The students being nominated were then sent an email inviting them to apply for the prize. Applicants were able to apply in English, Mandarin, Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.