Incoming freshman Emmanuel Manirakiza, who was to begin his undergraduate degree at UR this fall, died on Sunday, July 15, according to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jonathan Burdick, who made a post about the tragedy on the University of Rochester Class of 2016 Facebook page.
“I can imagine easily his great joy knowing that others in the new class might draw inspiration from him,” he wrote.
Manikrakiza survived the Rwandan Genocide at a young age, as well as life in Congo as a refugee, where the UN camp he was living in came under attack, according to a personal statement which he wrote entitled “MY STORY: Uphill Climb.”
After living in the Congolese bush with his sister Patricia, the pair returned to Rwanda in 1997 or 1998, when Manirakiza was six years old. The situation in Rwanda was still unsafe and it was not until 2001, when the war ended, that Manirakiza was placed in The Sonrise School, an institution founded by an Anglican bishop, John Rucyahana, and intended for orphans affected by the genocide, HIV and war.
After many years of hard work, Manirakiza began to study at the African Leadership Academy (ALA), a secondary institution which educates high-achieving African students, in 2010.
“He was a young Rwandan man who survived so much adversity but never gave up and always had a smile on his face,” incoming freshman Ngosa Mupela, Manirakiza’s friend and classmate at ALA, said in an earlier post on July 15.
According to Burdick, during the first days of Orientation there will be remembrances in honor of Manirakiza, in addition to events to be held later on, planned by his friends from ALA, among others.
For more detailed coverage of this story look to our print edition, which will resume publication in September.