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Mufuka Scholarship Celebrates 20 Years at Lander University

mufuka scholarship winners
Jean Mufuka (center) stands surrounded by current and past recipients of the Mufuka Scholarship at Lander University, along with members of their families. See more photos. Photo by Megan V. Price

The conclusion of any school year includes special recognitions and celebrations of the academic accomplishments of students, recent graduates and alumni. This year, one of the most important of these celebrations at Lander University was a reunion of students and alumni of the Mufuka Scholars Program.

Held Saturday, May 4, past recipients of one of the University’s most prestigious scholarships enjoyed their return to campus with a special luncheon inside the Abney Cultural Center. These end-of-term gatherings have been a special occasion to Dr. Douglas and Jean Mufuka, for whom the scholarship is named. In years past, Mufuka Scholars have enjoyed summer barbecues at the couple’s Greenwood residence. Saturday’s gathering, however, was a significant milestone for the Mufuka Scholarship, which celebrated 20 years of bringing the best and brightest young minds to study at Lander.

Still, the Mufukas preferred to keep this year’s celebration a casual affair, with a close-knit, familial atmosphere that reflects the family-like bond that Mufuka Scholars develop with the Mufuka family and each other. This special connection is one that endures through their course of study at Lander and life after college. From selection, to regular check-ins, to following each student’s progress after graduation, the Mufukas work to ensure their scholarship recipients are ready for success, at Lander and beyond. 


See the full photo gallery of the event.


About the Scholarship

Jean and Douglas Mufuka
Pictured are Dr. Douglas (right) and Jean Mufuka (left), for whom the Mufuka Scholars Program at Lander University is named.

While the Mufuka Scholarship celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, the origins of the Mufuka Scholars Program go back a bit further. It started when Dr. Douglas Mufuka, a native of Zimbabwe, gave the gift of education to members of his family. Understanding the power that a broad liberal arts education has on the world, Dr. Mufuka and his wife, Jean, continued paying it forward by covering the full cost of attendance to Lander for Zimbabwe students. As their efforts continued, the Mufukas solidified their connection to Lander through the establishment of the Mufuka Private Foundation. With the support of other members of the Mufuka family—notably their niece, Lois Mufuka, and sister-in-law, Mashura Mufuka—the foundation has successfully honored its original mission to bring Zimbabwe’s best and brightest minds to Lander. To date, there have been a total of 23 Mufuka Scholars, with the 24th enrolling at Lander in the fall of 2024.

The process to become a Mufuka Scholar is quite rigorous. Students are recommended by school and church leaders, and carefully selected by the Mufukas based on each student’s academic record and co-curricular accomplishments. While most recipients are from Zimbabwe, the scholarship is occasionally open to local standout students who are involved with the Salvation Army or other civic organizations. Applications and the corresponding essays are reviewed to understand how the student envisions using the power of their Lander University degree to enrich themselves, their families, their communities and the world around them.

In 2019, the Mufukas moved their private foundation to The Lander Foundation. Mufuka Scholars are not required to pursue a specific degree program, and their individual academic interests have varied. Many have gone on to receive advanced degrees in business, communication, chemistry and medicine. Meanwhile, others have received prestigious summer internships and residencies, as well as careers at renowned organizations, like Ernst & Young.

However, scholarship recipients are encouraged to exemplify the generosity of the scholarship’s founders. Some share their culture with the Lander campus and the surrounding community. Others pay it forward to other students whom they’ve never met by giving money to pay for school fees. And some give back to the Mufuka Scholars Program, which has eclipsed $2.1 million since its creation in 2004, helping to pave the way to a rewarding Lander education to scholarship recipients for generations to come.

In her remarks to the Mufuka Scholars at Saturday’s luncheon, Jean Mufuka reminded everyone of the importance of loving their neighbors. One way, she suggested, is to pay the gift of education forward to someone else. “Don’t stop your education, help other students,” Mufuka said. “Enjoy each other’s company, pray for one another, encourage one another and pay it forward.”


A Call to Give

Lander alumni of all backgrounds can act on the call by Dr. Douglas and Jean Mufuka to pay it forward by supporting The Lander Foundation. As an incorporated 501(c)3 non-profit organization, The Lander Foundation is the official philanthropic organization operating solely to support Lander University and Lander students.

“Lander University is proud to provide an enriching educational experience to our students, and our University has benefited greatly from the academic and co-curricular contributions of our Mufuka Scholars,” said Robyn Hoffman, vice president for University Advancement and executive director of The Lander Foundation. “We are thankful for our generous scholarship donors, like Dr. Douglas and Jean Mufuka, who have made a deep commitment to, and investment in, an entire generation of Lander students who are now actively changing the world in which they live.”

Donations to Lander University help students fulfill their dreams through a rewarding education. Contributions to The Lander Foundation, of all sizes, are used to help students launch successful careers and lead productive lives.

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Then and Now: Meet a Few of Lander’s Mufuka Scholars

Lovemore Farai Chiutsi

Lovemore Farai Chiutsi ’08 began his North American journey at Lander University as the first student ever to receive the Mufuka Scholarship. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Accounting Emphasis, Chiutsi moved to Toronto to explore the world of tax accounting. Yet, looking for more ways to connect and make a difference led him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in education, which he received from Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada, in 2013.

Chiutsi’s teaching career has taken him to the heart of Alberta, working with the Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council Education Authority. He was eventually promoted to vice principal, and then physical education specialist, and completed his Master of Education in 2023.

“Reflecting on this path, I’m reminded of the Mufuka Scholarship’s role in my story,” said Chiutsi. “Being its first recipient is a badge I wear with pride, not for the accolades, but for what it represents: the chance to grow, to change paths and to give back in ways I had never imagined.”


Munyana Benjamin Pamacheche

Munyana Benjamin Pamacheche ’09 is a seasoned financial management and accounting professional with over 15 years of expertise in driving organizational growth and excellence. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with Honors from Lander University, Pamacheche has consistently demonstrated a deep understanding of accounting principles and financial management best practices.

Throughout his career, Pamacheche has held key roles in various organizations, including serving as divisional accounting systems director at Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters in Charlotte, N.C. In this capacity, he has played a crucial role in ensuring the integrity of financial data, overseeing daily accounting transactions, and providing invaluable support to local accounting personnel. Prior to his current role, Pamacheche served as divisional assistant accounting manager at Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters, where he excelled in providing financial reporting and coordination, demonstrating his strong analytical skills and attention to detail.

In addition to his professional achievements, Pamacheche is a devoted husband and father. He cherishes spending time with his beautiful wife and daughter, finding joy and inspiration in their presence. Pamacheche is passionate about family values and strives to create a nurturing and supportive environment for his loved ones.

Outside of his professional and family commitments, Pamacheche is actively involved in volunteer work, serving as a mentor in the Character-Building Program at the Salvation Army Charlotte Temple church in Charlotte, N.C., and contributing to various community initiatives aimed at youth development and education. He also dedicates his time as a beginner brass band instructor at his church, teaching on Tuesday nights and Sunday after church services.


Tashinga Musonza

Tashinga Musonza ’10, M.D., is a bariatric surgeon, board-certified in general surgery and fellowship-trained in hepatopancreatobiliary surgery. He specializes in the treatment of malignant and benign disorders of the liver, pancreas, gallbladder, biliary tract, duodenum and spleen. Dr. Musonza strives to provide compassionate and high-quality surgical care supported by the latest advancements in medicine.

Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Dr. Musonza came to Lander to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing with a biology minor through the Mufuka Foundation Scholarship. Prior to earning his medical degree at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine in Minnesota, he worked as an ICU nurse in North Carolina. He completed his general surgery residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where he was named Chief Resident of the Year by the Michael E. DeBakey surgical faculty. Dr. Musonza was also recognized for excellent communication skills, efficiency and professionalism by the Department of Emergency Medicine at Baylor with the Golden Scalpel Award. After his time at Baylor, he joined Colorado Springs Surgical Associates (CSSA) at Penrose Hospital as a trauma, acute care and general surgeon.

After a few years in practice, he completed a subspecialty fellowship in hepatopancreatobiliary surgery at the Cleveland Medical Center through Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He then rejoined CSSA as a hepatobiliary, bariatric and general surgeon. Dr. Musonza is also currently enrolled in the MBA program at the University of Colorado Springs, and is pursuing a healthcare administration emphasis as part of his degree. Dr. Musonza has published several peer reviewed journal articles, abstracts, and book chapters in hepatopancreatobiliary, trauma and general surgery. He enjoys writing poetry and aphorisms, gardening and playing soccer.


Shalom Chausarira

Shalom Chausarira ’12 was born in Guruve, Zimbabwe, and spent her formative years in Chiweshe, Zimbabwe, where she attended Howard High School. Her exceptional academic achievements and unwavering determination caught the attention of the United States Achievers Program (USAP), an esteemed organization dedicated to supporting talented and financially disadvantaged students. With the invaluable assistance of USAP, Chausarira was awarded the prestigious Mufuka Foundation Scholarship, affording her the opportunity to pursue higher education at Lander University.

During her time at Lander, Chausarira’s profound passion for science flourished. Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, she embarked on a dynamic career within the realm of biotechnology. Notably, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chausarira exhibited tireless dedication while employed at Pfizer, Inc., where she played an integral role in the manufacturing process of life-saving vaccines.

Presently excelling in a quality control role at Biogen, Chausarira is also dedicated to empowering women. As host of the "Financially Empowered Women's Podcast," she shares invaluable insights on financial literacy. Additionally, she volunteers with organizations like Triangle Women in STEM and the Biogen Community Lab, mentoring the next generation of scientists. Chausarira embodies resilience, generosity, and excellence in both her career and community endeavors.


Breanda Kapingidza

Brenda Kapingidza ’15, Ph.D., is another Mufuka Scholar who worked towards finding a vaccine for COVID-19. A native of Zimbabwe, Dr. Kapingidza was raised in a family of eight children, and came to Lander through the Mufuka Scholarship Program to pursue a degree in chemistry. Her passion for research was seeded by the work she completed in conjunction with NASA under the mentorship of Dr. Lisa Broadhacker. While at Lander, Dr. Kapingidza received more than 20 academic awards and certificates, including the American Chemical Society - Western Carolina’s Outstanding Senior Chemistry Major Award, and the Golden L Award. She was a member of the Honors College, the Alpha Chi Honor Society and served as the president of Lander’s chapter of the American Chemical Society.

After graduating from Lander, she completed her Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina, where she studied the interactions of the human immune system with different allergens in the quest to develop better immunotherapy for allergic diseases, such as asthma, atopic dermatitis and rhinitis. While completing her doctoral studies, Dr. Kapingidza authored 10 research papers and was invited by Springer-Nature to write a chapter on Antigen-Antibody Complexes for their book on subcellular biochemistry.

After defending her dissertation, Dr. Kapingidza joined the Duke School of Medicine as a post-doctoral associate at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI), a world leader in cutting edge vaccine research against infectious diseases that impact global health. She is currently working as a medical research scientist and lab supervisor, and she also serves as one of the executive committee members for the Duke Centre for HIV Research. Within the protein engineering lab at DHVI, she oversees all the production of vaccine candidates, troubleshoots experiments, ensures the smooth running of day-to-day lab duties and mentors all early-stage scientists and technicians.

For the four years she has been at DHVI, Dr. Kapingidza has authored two research articles and was awarded the Duke CHAVD Recognition Award for her contributions the development of an HIV universal vaccine. Additionally, Dr. Kapingidza was one of the inventors for two patents on COVID-19 and HIV universal vaccine candidates.


Tatenda Makuvatsine

Tatenda Makuvatsine ’19 is from a high-density neighborhood of Chnhoyi, Zimbabwe. “By the grace of God,” said Makuvatsine, and “through the inexhaustible generosity of the Mufuka Foundation,” he has managed to be a fount of hope and inspiration to both family and strangers, from his country of origin to his current community and workplace.

After losing his mother in December of 2011, followed by his sister the following April, Makuvatsine was motivated by a desire to help others. The love from his dad and the encouragement from his support system fueled him, helping him land as one of the top students on his Ordinary and Advanced level national exams at Nemakonde and Mazowe cohorts respectively.

Through the kindness of the Mufuka Foundation, Makuvatsine secured a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Lander, and has been an ICU nurse since then. Regarding the Mufuka family, Makuvatsine noted that he will “forever be grateful of their never-ending love, the family away from home that he benefited through the Mufuka Scholars Alumni and the spiritual mentorship” that he received, including through his involvement with the local Salvation Army. All of that has been pivotal in Makuvatsine’s identity, values, extracurricular activities and future goals.


Chelesani Nyathi

Chelesani Nyathi ’19, the 12th Mufuka Scholarship recipient, first learned about the scholarship through her pastor, Peter Kwenda, a lieutenant colonel in the Salvation Army who previously served as the administrator of the Usher Institute, where Nyathi received her high school education. After finishing her Bachelor Science in Nursing at Lander, Nyathi worked for Self Regional Healthcare. She completed her Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner, from Clemson University, and now works as a family nurse practitioner with the Self Medical Group.

“I have come this far in my career, and life in general, all thanks to Uncle Douglas and Auntie Jean, who chose to invest in someone like me,” Nyathi said. “In addition to getting a scholarship that covered 100 percent tuition, accommodation and living expenses, the Mufuka Foundation gave me a family. I will forever be grateful for the generosity of Uncle Douglas and Auntie Jean.”


Abbie Aguilar

Marta “Abbie” Aguilar ’22 was born in and grew up in Greenwood. She spent her childhood and teen years in Salvation Army programming and was often a volunteer for any of the community outreach the church would do. It was through those programs and Sunday morning church services that Aguilar met the Mufukas. Throughout grade school, Aguilar dedicated her time to the outreach and ministry of the Salvation Army when possible. Because of this dedication and love she showed to the ministry of the Salvation Army, the Mufukas decided to bless her with the offer of a scholarship to Lander University.

Aguilar began Lander in the fall of 2018 as a Visual Arts major with an emphasis in graphic design. While at Lander, she worked for a year as a student technician in the IT department, then spent the rest of her college career as a student worker for the Lander University Tech Crew. In her discipline, Aguilar won several photography awards as well as having artworks displayed in the Bascom Gallery in North Carolina, and the Greenville Airport Exhibits. Aguilar finished out her college career graduating in the spring of 2022 as the recipient of the department-wide Photography Award and the department-wide Art Discipline Award, as well as graduating with Cum Laude and Golden L recognitions.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Design degree, Aguilar embarked on a meaningful career journey focusing on youth outreach and event coordination at the Salvation Army North and South Carolina Divisional Headquarters. Her creative spirit and passion for community engagement has led her to spearhead impactful initiatives, bringing positive change to the interpersonal and digital aspects of the Salvation Army. Aguilar continues to embody the values instilled during her college years, made possible by the Mufuka Foundation, fostering connections and striving to make a difference wherever possible.


Rolland Muzeya

Rolland Muzeya ’24 graduated from Mazowe Boys High School in Harare, Zimbabwe. He earned a degree from Lander in computer information systems with a software development emphasis, and minors in mathematics and cybersecurity. His achievements include working as a computer repair technician on campus, presenting undergraduate research in computer information systems, and he will be joining BlackRock as a Software Engineer in the fall of 2024.








Betserai Albert Magarire

Betserai Albert Magarire is originally from Glendale, Zimbabwe. He went to Mazowe Boys High School for both O-Level and A-Level studies, and completed pure math, physics, mechanical math, chemistry and computer science at A-Level. At Lander, Magarire is studying computer information systems with an emphasis in software development, and a minor in cybersecurity. After graduation, he hopes to find a job as a software engineer or systems analyst.








Kimberly Sipanela

Kimberly Sipanela grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe, and is a sophomore biology major at Lander University. She has an interest in the medical field and has been on a journey to be a part of it. She went to USAP Community School, which directed her path towards the Mufuka Scholarship and Lander University. At Lander, Sipanela is part of the Orientation Leader program, and serves as a Presidential Ambassador. She enjoys being an active participant in campus life.








The Mufuka Scholars Program is managed by The Lander Foundation in proud partnership with the Mufuka family. To learn more about The Lander Foundation, and opportunities to give the gift of an enriching Lander University education, please visit


Lander University Mufuka Scholars 20th Reunion-Photo Gallery by University Relations