Born: Gaborone, Botswana
Lived in: Botswana, Swaziland, and now the USA.
Intended Major: Communication
Keletso was born and raised in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana and one of Africa’s fastest growing cities. Her father is a medical doctor and her mother is a business woman. “My mother owns a dry cleaning shop called ‘KaraKele.’ The name has no meaning in any language, but it is a blend of my older brother’s name ‘Karabo’ and my name ‘Keletso.’” The name speaks to the close-knit ties of Keletso’s family.
Keletso’s father, seeking a good education for his daughter, sent her to Waterford-Kamhlaba UWC of Africa in Swaziland when she entered Form II. Unlike most of the other UWC schools, Waterford-Kamhlaba UWC has a full curriculum for elementary, middle, and high school students. “At the end of Form V, I wanted to leave Waterford and have a change of scenery,” Keletso states. “My parents were more realistic, however, and they told me I needed to stay at Waterford and get my IB diploma. They said it would give me the possibility to go overseas for my university education. I reluctantly did the IB curriculum, but it was the smartest decision I ever made.”
Keletso enjoyed her two years of the IB program, particularly the diversity the school offered. “Waterford is very well known and popular in Africa. I went to school with princes and presidents’ kids as well as with classmates who were extremely poor. It was very international and economically diverse.”
When asked why she had chosen Lewis & Clark, Keletso says, “Well, honestly, it was the first school to accept me, the first school to offer me a scholarship, and the first school that had the major I want–communication. But, I don’t want it to sound like I ‘had to come’ to L&C. I received more acceptances and more offers from other schools. I am very happy I chose to come to Lewis & Clark,” Keletso reveals.
Keletso has adjusted much easier to life in the US than she originally thought she would. “In Africa the universities are very big and that’s what I am used to. But, Lewis & Clark is easy to access and adjustment has not been a problem for me so far. I thought that I would be homesick but honestly, I have not been. I like the L&C and I like Portland. The city is laid back and not overwhelming.
Keletso admits that the change from the African/British education system to that of the US is a bit daunting. “I am used to the idea of declaring my major right from the beginning and studying only subjects in my major. I thought that I wouldn’t have to take compuslory classes like physical education. I don’t like PE! But, the concept of the liberal arts program is very similar to the IB program’s. And, I have to admit that even my Exploration and Discovery class is getting more and more interesting.”
Keletso beams when she talks about her professors. “Professor Susan Glosser (E&D professor) is extremely helpful. The text we use is not easy and I go to her often for help. She discusses the readings with me and helps me to understand them better. And, Professor George Austin, my communication teacher, is amazing! He makes the class so interesting and he tries to relate to all of his students. He makes me feel that I made a great decision about choosing communication as my major.”
When asked about diversity at Lewis & Clark, Keletso had some interesting observations. “Most of my education has been in schools where almost everyone was an international student. At L&C we have lots of international students, but compared to the US students, we are a minority. I have never really lived in a place where I was a minority. Now that I am in the US, I am an international student and black. I am in the minority. But, it doesn’t bother me much, to be honest. It bothers me that I am the only person from my region of Africa (Southern Africa), more than the fact that I am black. Lewis & Clark needs to bring some more students from Southern Africa!”
When asked about her goals for the year, Keletso states, “I really hope to be actively involved with something this year–a play, a workshop, an organization, or something. I am a bit shy and I need to get over that. I am always the one helping in the background, but this year I want to initiate something.”
Keletso talked about her biggest surprise at coming to Lewis & Clark. “This might be a bit mean, but I am surprised at the students. I thought that I would get all kinds of silly questions like ‘Do you have lions in your back yard?’ But, I underestimated my fellow students. Lots of them have asked questions, but they are not silly questions. They are the same kinds of questions that I would ask if I visited another country. So, that has been a pleasant surprise.”