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Charlesworth Mabheka

College: City College
Awards: ,

Outstanding Student

"’Kill that sell-out!' a voice barked into the summer night. The headlights of the Land Rover blinded me. I was handcuffed, feet and hands. ‘You are MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) supporters, and you're going to die!' shouted President Robert Mugabe's War Veterans. I was serving as an election monitor, having been involved in elections since 1994. They took me roughly by the arm and hustled me to the Land Rover, punched me in my side and shoved me onto the floor of the rear seat. After the 2002 election, and fearing for my life, I abandoned my ambitions of building a national grass-roots pro-democracy network in Zimbabwe and fled to the United States to pursue my education and join the democracy movement that has its deepest roots in the United States. Then, as if this was not enough, on Jan. 23, 2009, a cholera epidemic swept across Zimbabwe, killing 4,293 people, including my mother, aged 62, my 18-year-old sister and my 11-year-old nephew. I was devastated. I was angry with economic sanctions and Mugabe, who is responsible for the breakdown in the rule of law and collapse of the health-care system."

Charlesworth Mabheka transformed his anger into a college degree. His ultimate goal is to continue to support his countrymen, something he does from the United States via his involvement in volunteer work with One To World (formerly Metro International).

Mabheka has advocated for poverty eradication at U.N. Secretariat briefings and raised public awareness about world problems such as human trafficking through public forums at the Student World Assembly. He founded the Student World Assembly chapter at City College and served as its first president. In 2005 and 2006, he participated in the prestigious Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference and the Student Conference on United States Affairs, where his round table discussed Zimbabwe as a case study. Additionally, he planned and organized a seminar on "Responsibility to Protect After Libya" at City College, and was a delegate to the 57th Annual Student Conference on United States Affairs.

His research interests include poverty, HIV/AIDS and international sanctions. He presented "The Impact of Economic Sanctions: The Case of Zimbabwe and The Land Question in Zimbabwe: The Lingering Colonial Effect" at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in 2011, papers that were the result of his participation in Macaulay Honors Research Seminars.

He has worked as a research assistant with his mentor, Professor John Krinsky, as a social sciences tutor at Borough of Manhattan Community College and as a research intern for New York State Assemb. William Scarborough, and he is a volunteer with the International Rescue Committee. In spring 2012, he worked closely with Professor Nicholas Freudenberg on the CUNY symposium "Obesity and Social Justice." Mabheka started his CUNY education at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in 2004, earning an associate's degree in business administration in 2008. He hopes to go on for a master's degree in international relations at City College.