French Club Selling Beads to Support Rwanda Project

SIOUX FALLS, SD – Members of Augustana’s French Club, Le Cercle Français, will be selling Mardi Gras beads in the Morrison Commons on Monday and Tuesday, February 15 and 16, with proceeds going to Project Akilah, a new leadership school in Rwanda.

Three strands of beads, one each in purple, gold, and green, will be sold for $1.

Monique Schmidt, class of 1998, is the program director for The Akilah Institute, a vocational training and leadership institute for a diverse group of motivated young women located in Bugesera, Rwanda.

Image above: Monique Schmidt (left) with co-founder Elizabeth Dearborn Davis at the Akilah Institute for Women in Rwanda.

Akilah was founded by Elizabeth Dearborn Davis and Dave Hughes. Its mission is to empower young Rwandan women with the knowledge and skills to find meaningful employment in a rapidly developing Rwanda to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

Schmidt grew up in South Dakota. She majored in French and Communications at Augustana and graduated magna cum laude. She served two years in the Peace Corps in Benin, West Africa, then returned to the United States and earned a master’s degree in creative writing at Syracuse University.

She has taught in universities in the United States and abroad and spent several years volunteering as a poetry professor in prisons and directing community service programs in the West Indies and the Blackfeet Indian Reservations for Visions Service Adventures.

In 2005, Schmidt received Augustana’s Horizon Award, an honor given to young alumni who have quickly excelled in their career, who exemplify Augustana’s five fundamental values, and are involved in their community and/or church. Because she speaks French fluently, she was the first Peace Corps volunteer in Glazoue, Benin.

Her first book about Africa, Last Moon Dancing, was published in 2005. For 2007-2008 she was awarded a Fulbright to teach at the University of Lomé in Togo, and to conduct women’s empowerment workshops in high schools.


Bruce Conley
Director, News Information
Phone: 605.274.5526
Fax: 605.274.4903
bruce.conley@augie.edu