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2018 Young Alumnus of the Year: Serge Gasore



Serge Gasore is 2018 Young Alumnus of the Year.
Serge Gasore is 2018 Young Alumnus of the Year.

Photo by Paul White

The Catholic Church where Serge Gasore (’09) saw his grandmother die, among some 5,000 others, is now a memorial site. You can visit the Ntarama Genocide Memorial Centre in Ntarama, Rwanda, and see the bones of Tutsis murdered by their Hutu neighbors, friends and family members. You can visit a place that saw such darkness, and try to reckon with it.
Serge was 7 when he survived the darkness of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, only to be plummeted into a troubled childhood. His athletic ability landed him the opportunity to run track and cross country for ACU starting in 2005. But it was a trip back into the darkness, now that he’d already escaped it, that showed him his true calling in life.
It started in 2008 during his winter break from school: “I got back to my community, and I sensed something like darkness,” he said. “I looked at the darkness, and I thought, ‘Who is responsible to remove this darkness? Is it other people, or do I need to contribute?’ ”
Young Alumnus of the Year: Recognizes professional achievement and/or distinguished service to ACU. To be eligible, a recipient must not be over 40 years of age at the time of selection.
Back in Abilene and working at Chicken Express for minimum wage, he learned that for only $2 through one program, he could cover a Rwandan child’s medical needs for a year.
“I looked at how much I was making at Chicken Express – it felt like I was making tons – and I thought, ‘$2? Obviously, I can do that.’ I sent about $70 and I covered a bunch of kids,” he said.
Three years into donating to the program, he married his wife, Esperance, and with the help of Abilene churches, the Gasores were providing care for about
1,000 children.
Feeling the need to do something bigger, the couple moved to Rwanda in 2013 and founded the faith-based nonprofit Rwanda Children as well as a children’s home, Maman Karen, to provide housing, food, family and hope to at-risk Rwandan children. Rwanda Children has grown to include five additional homes, a health clinic, youth clubs and vocational training programs.
Serge describes his work as community renewal: meeting physical and spiritual needs to strengthen the local community, transform families and make a lasting impact on the country’s future. And he credits his time at ACU, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degrees in global information technology leadership (2011) and global service (2014), with preparing and inspiring him for his work to help others.
Acts of kindness at first foreign to Serge made a lasting impact, from a professor inviting Serge to his home for a cup of coffee, to another professor taking time outside of class to help a struggling Serge understand the course material.
“Everything I do over here stands out because I’m doing things that other people don’t do,” he said. “My actions, my work ethic – I got them from the ACU family.”
Serge doesn’t hide from darkness now; he confronts it. And now, life in Rwanda is beginning to look brighter.
“ACU prepares you,” Serge said, “to go out into the world and shine.”

Read the online edition of ACU Today magazine here:

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