Finalists Selected for the Second Annual CIEE UNHCR Student Challenge in London

Authored By:


Three university student teams will present solutions for increasing refugee access to higher education and livelihood at the CIEE Global Internship Conference in London


The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) announced last week the three university student teams who will advance to the final round of the 2024 CIEE UNHCR Student Challenge that will be held at the 12th Annual CIEE Global Internship Conference in London, England on June 19-21, 2024. 

The second annual competition, cosponsored by CIEE and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, invited global teams of university students to develop ideas for increasing access to higher education and livelihood for forcibly displaced youth around the world. Challenge partners District C and Microsoft provided additional support.

In the first round of the challenge, 130 teams of undergraduates submitted their solution ideas as 500-word proposals. Then 36 teams representing 47 universities, and 21 countries were selected to further develop and present their ideas virtually to judges from across the globe representing organizations advocating for refugees, including the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, Kepler, the President’s Alliance for Immigration and Higher Education, Talent Beyond Boundaries, and Jesuit Worldwide Learning. 

The judges selected three teams to advance to the 2024 CIEE UNHCR Student Challenge finals based on the significant potential of their solution idea to address this critical challenge facing refugees. The teams awarded a trip to London to compete in-person for the grand prize are:

  • Eagles – Amina Mkova (Team Captain); Obed Korusenge Nsanzimfura; Joselyto Charite Baho, all from Kepler College, Rwanda; and Nimco Ibrahim, African Leadership University, Rwanda
  • Three Paths – Mia Williams (Team Captain) University of Pennsylvania; Zamzam Fadhil, San Diego Mesa College; Ahmednoor Hassan, Bates College; and Kay Ellen Bell, Bard College
  • Wellesley in the World – Merelin Baldonado (Team Captain); Ilinca Drondoe; and Suzanna Schofield, all from Wellesley College

While in London, the finalists will continue to workshop their proposal then present their idea during the closing plenary at the CIEE Global Internship Conference. Each member of the winning team will earn a summer 2025 global internship facilitated by CIEE, and an opportunity for their idea to be shared with UNHCR and their networks. Winners will be announced on June 21.

“The student proposals for solutions to help refugees were impressive,” said James P. Pellow, President and CEO of CIEE.  “As Challenge participants developed their ideas, they better understood the challenges refugees face and gained valuable skills, like those developed during a global internship--teamwork, collaboration, research skills, critical thinking, problem solving, design thinking, and more.” 

“UNHCR commends the commitment of the student teams who, through their creativity and advocacy, are significantly contributing to building knowledge, diversifying campuses and developing innovative solutions that enhance refugee access to higher education and promote self-reliance. We thank and congratulate all those who participated in this important initiative,” said Manal Stulgaitis, Officer for Higher Education, United Nations Refugee Agency.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights, and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people. Worldwide, over 100 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, violence, and persecution. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, believes that young people have a central role to play in finding ways to help them thrive, not just survive. 

About CIEE
CIEE builds bridges between different people, different countries, and different cultures. For 75 years, we have helped young people participate in high-quality international exchange and study abroad programs that bring the world together. We change lives, our alumni change the world. Learn more at



Media contact: Leslie Taylor,, (207)553-4274