Elevating Alumni Voices: Insights from 2014 and 2015 Graduates of the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program

Publisher: Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research
May 30, 2016
Authors
Sarah Hughes, Caroline Lauver, and Isabel Krakoff

As part of our learning partnership with The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, Mathematica gathered personal reflections from graduates to understand their experiences as they transitioned out of secondary or tertiary education. The information they provided helps the program to shape the supports provided to the next generation of scholars. This evaluative activity complements more formal impact and performance evaluations by bringing the voices of scholars to the forefront and encouraging them to provide feedback about the program in their own words. Mathematica worked with subcontractor Research World International to collect data from more than 130 alumni from the first two cohorts of The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program. Watch the related video.

Findings from all alumni

  • Alumni credit the scholars program for enabling them to continue their education and to succeed in employment. They also acknowledge the program for providing them the skills and motivating them to give back to their home communities and home countries.
  • Alumni value the network of MasterCard Foundation scholars and recommend strengthening and expanding the opportunities for networking. 

Findings from secondary education alumni

  • More than 85 percent of secondary education alumni are currently pursuing higher education.
  • Alumni faced a range of barriers in pursuing a university education, including gaining entrance to a university, obtaining scholarships or other financial support, and managing their academic workload.
  • Alumni need training in soft or transferable skills and help transitioning to university studies, including information on entrance requirements and scholarship opportunities. 

Findings from tertiary education alumni

  • Nearly all alumni are either employed or pursuing graduate studies.
  • About half of alumni who studied abroad have returned to their home countries, and 80 percent of those still abroad intend to return home in the next five years.
  • Alumni experienced difficulties obtaining jobs in their home countries; lacking familiarity with the local job market was a recurring theme in alumni remarks.
  • Alumni recommend that the program or their schools provide improved career services and networks. In addition, they would like more preparation for, and support during, the transition from school to work.