When Aime Bakundukize was 8, his family fled war-torn Mozambique for asylum in the U.S. But while they benefited from safety and security, he lost his friends and found himself unable to connect with others because he didn’t speak English.

“When you find out that you have to leave your home – it just breaks your world,” Aime said. “I remember crying to my parents asking them if I could take the whole town with me.”

Once in America, he became determined to succeed, diving deeply into his studies.

“I trapped myself in a shell,” he said. “I worked day and night to improve my English. While most kids were watching TV at home, I had a hefty children’s dictionary. During school, I would be on my own, working on English while the rest of my peers were having fun.”

Along the way, his perseverance earned him president’s honor roll recognition and a CIF baseball championship.

Aime always knew that college was his next step. He is majoring in electrical engineering and will attend Stanford University – ranked second in the world for engineering and technology.

He is attending on a full-ride QuestBridge scholarship, but even generous scholarships don’t cover all the costs of college. With the help of Hope through Housing Foundation’s Building Bright Futures Scholarship, Aime will have the funds he needs to travel from San Diego to Stanford as well as to start saving for a laptop.

“This $1,000 scholarship is very helpful,” Aime said. “Not only will it help me get to school but it’ll help my family, too. They won’t have to make a 12-hour drive to Stanford from San Diego. I don’t want to put them through that.”

Beyond his academic ambitions, he wants to change the world – he plans on traveling to to provide electricity and clean running water to countries that need it the most – a desire that stems from his childhood in Mozambique. He also plans on sharing his knowledge with the next generation.

“I want to help kids just like me,” he said. “The younger generation is the future. Being able to give them valuable skills is what will build up our earth and make a better future.”




Skip to content