Holly Irasubiza is an activist, researcher, and mentor committed to building a stronger, more equitable Rwanda. She served as a 2017-2018 Global Health Corps fellow at Partners in Health.

Born and raised in Kigali, she blossomed into a vocal leader during her time as a student at Bugema University, where she headed multiple student organizations and worked as a teaching assistant and instructor.

After graduating, Holly mentored other female students to encourage them to dream big and work towards a brighter future. Passionate about the power of leadership to transform societies, Holly authored a piece titled “Why Care and Compassion Are Core Leadership Competencies.”

In this article, Holly talks about the powerful impact of mentorship, both for mentees and mentors.


As a mentee, I grew significantly both personally and professionally - Holly Irasubiza Click To Tweet

What inspired you to become a mentor?

I have a passion for people development, and being a mentor is a way to share my knowledge and experiences to impact another’s success. It is fulfilling and keeps my motivation high, knowing that I am touching a life by giving back.

My life has been shaped by the mentors I have met throughout my journey, and I hope to support the younger generation to go beyond their limits and change the world.

Why should mentorship be important to young African leaders?

The African continent has struggled under bad leadership, and some of the consequences are still faced by the African population.

But it has also experienced some of the most brilliant and visionary leaders, which have shed the light, banished the darkness, and brought hope for today and the future of Africa. To maintain and develop great future leaders of Africa, we need to be proactive, starting with the empowerment of our youth.

By some estimates, up to 60% of the African population is the youth, and they need to be empowered and encouraged to explore their potential and use available resources to their advantage. This will not only provide us with great leaders in the future but will also speed up the continent’s development now.

With mentorship, young leaders can learn from past experiences and success stories, and stand on the shoulders of giants to go further.

What makes a good mentor/mentee relationship?

I sum this up as the 4 C’s:

Commitment: The mentee must identify the right person for mentorship, including past experiences and areas of expertise, to ensure that the mentor is in a position to help them to achieve their goals.

Communication: The mentee should have clear goals and communicate the agenda they want to be mentored on, how often they would like to check-in, and a preferred communication line (email, Skype calls, or face-to-face meetings). This will help both mentor and mentee to schedule their regular meetings and track their progress.

Compassion: It is the responsibility of the mentor to create a positive and friendly environment for the mentee to share openly their opinions and challenges. They should check if they are meeting the set goals, and maintain objectivity throughout the course.

Care: The mentor should take ownership of the program, make sure that they listen clearly to the mentee’s needs, and use their best abilities to support their growth. The mentee should respect the mentor’s willingness to share their time, wisdom, knowledge, and experiences to support and guide them towards achieving their life goals.

Read how this @ghcorps fellow - Holly Irasubiza is mentoring the next generation of African leaders Click To Tweet

What do you hope for the next generation of African leaders? How can mentorship help achieve that future?

I am very optimistic about the next generation of African leaders. Having worked in multicultural settings, I have had the opportunity to interact with amazing, bright young women and men across the continent.

My peers are very ambitious and innovative, with brilliant ideas. Their aspirations for African development are incredible, and they have already made a remarkable impact in their respective communities.

I have no doubt about the great future leaders they are.

The youth are eager to learn from leaders’ experience and take up their wisdom. Mentorship will guide them and show them how to apply this knowledge to make them better future leaders.

How has your career in global health impacted your mentorship skills – and vice versa?

Global Health Corps provided me with great opportunities to interact with leaders and experts in different areas. So many willingly shared their experiences and wisdom, and they are still great resources for my success as an alumna of the program.

I am provided with guidance, encouragement, and support to achieve my goals. This experience has strengthened my passion to give back.

How have you benefited from mentorship—both as a mentor and a mentee?

Being a mentor has improved my leadership skills; my mentee looks up to me, so I have to set a good example and be the type of leader I want to see.

It has also boosted my communication skills and keeps me engaged by offering me fulfillment, seeing the impact it makes. Mentorship has broadened my network and offered me opportunities to learn from my mentees as well.

As a mentee, I grew significantly both personally and professionally. Learning from the best offered me different opportunities and extended my professional network. The leader that I am today is the result of these relationships.


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