A Bagogwe Tutsi born in Congo, Mondiant Dogon was only three when his family narrowly escaped Hutu men bent on murder. Fleeing to Rwanda, the family found themselves on a journey that included years of life in United Nations tent cities — circumstances nearly as dangerous as those they had left behind.
In spite of the conditions in the camps, Mondiant managed to scratch out an education and, with help from a sponsor, was able to go on to high school. High marks there allowed him to attend the University of Rwanda, but because he did not qualify for financial aid, he could not stay on campus. With his books in hand, he studied at the refugee camp and made the two-hour back-and-forth trip to the university for exams, graduating in 2016.
A year after returning to the camps to teach other refugees, Mondiant met former AOL CEO Tim Armstrong on Shared Studios, an online art project to connect strangers from around the world. Armstrong encouraged him to apply to graduate school at New York University. Ultimately, he earned a Master’s Degree in International Education from the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
Now, with a passion to extend the same sort of helping hand he received to other refugees, he has founded the Mondiant Initiative and is working to help his countrymen rise up as he himself has risen.