Twelve hikers — including EMU seniors Riley Swartzendruber and Christy Kauffman, Provost Fred Kniss ‘79, Wilmer Otto ’73 and former Board of Trustees members John Bomberger ‘77 and Gerry Horst ’72 — trekked to the top of Kilimanjaro in March. Their efforts commemorated the life and legacy of murdered United Nations armed group expert, Michael J. Sharp ‘05, and raised more than $136,000 for an endowed scholarship in his name that benefits Congolese peacebuilders studying at EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.
At the summit, MJ’s father John Sharp scattered his son’s ashes, a moving moment for those hikers who had known MJ well, like his Congolese colleague Serge Lungele, and those who had never met him, like the two EMU students, but who have been inspired by his work and the people he touched.
The 8-day effort earned the attention of former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki R. Haley and Nobel laureates Leymah Gbowee MA ’07 and Dr. Denis Mukwege each of whom sent video greetings and encouragement to the hikers as they made the ascent. Actress and activist Jane Fonda also posted a message of support on her blog,
The first recipient of the Michael J. Sharp Peace and Justice Endowed Scholarship, Congolese peacebuilder David Nyiringabo, began his graduate studies in conflict transformation at CJP in fall 2018.
In thanks shared with supporters later, Kniss said he was mindful of their good wishes during the tough mental and physical challenge of getting to the top. “I also thank you on behalf of the future Congolese students who will benefit from the scholarship, and the Congolese people who will benefit from their work.”