First Lady of the DRC Speaks at SUU A.P.E.X. Event

Headshot of the First Lady of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Southern Utah University had the honor of hearing from H.E. Madam Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi, first lady of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at the first Ask. Ponder. Educate. [X]. event of the semester on Sept. 16.

A.P.E.X. is a weekly speaker event that hosts a plethora of individuals from different backgrounds and fields of operation. Tshisekedi, who was the first speaker of the Fall 2021 season, lived up to those high expectations.

Tshisekedi began her quest to help those around her as a nurse. She later founded Foundation Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi in 2019. She was also named United Nations Population Fund Goodwill Ambassador in the same year, as well as “World Champion for the Prevention of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence” by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Throughout her efforts to make her country a better place, her foundation has focused on four key areas: the health of women and the family, education of young girls, the fight against all forms of violence which destroy women and the empowerment of women.

While she says her goals are not yet complete, she has certainly made a dent in them.

She spoke of successfully making primary school free in the DRC, and her foundation is currently funding five SUU students as well as numerous others throughout the world.

“We do not hide our ambition to triple or even quadruple the current number of scholarship holders,” Tshisekedi stated.

She has worked to the point of almost completely ending sickle cell disease throughout her country. She has built a modern hospital and created more comfortable living situations for those with the disease while continuing to fund research in the hopes of completely eradicating it from the DRC.

Tshisekedi continues to strive for success, revealing what gives her hope is that “tomorrow will be better than today.”

Other women in her country have also grown in power. In the DRC, women now make up 30 percent of the government and the head of their central band, a first for her country in their 61 years of independence.  

Tshisekedi ended her presentation by giving her best advice to audience members: 

“Be focused,” Tshisekedi said. “You are the future, don’t forget it.”

More information on future A.P.E.X. events and speakers like Tshisekedi can be found here.   

Article by Audrey Gee