Oklahoma Christian University senior Yves Iradukunda won the Oklahoma Innovation Prize from Creative Oklahoma and Sandridge Energy at the State of Creativity Forum Tuesday.
Iradukunda is pursuing a mathematics and computer science degree at Oklahoma Christian. He is president of OC’s chapter of Rwandans4Water and serves as executive officer of ELE Rwanda - Rwandan Emerging Leaders and Entrepreneurs.
Last year, Iradukunda worked with other innovative students in Rwanda to build water wells, which helped spark his idea for ELE Rwanda. The organization seeks to inspire youth-led innovation and entrepreneurship to grow Rwanda’s economy.
“This award is amazing because it helps myself and my colleagues complete what started as a dream - to provide access to clean water to people in Rwanda,” Iradukunda said. “I’m so thankful for OC because it’s a place that connects you with the real world so you can find yourself and make a difference.”
Oklahoma Christian has a strong relationship with the Republic of Rwanda. In 2006, OC established its Presidential Scholars Program, which brings 10 to 20 of the brightest students from Rwanda to study at OC each year.
The Oklahoma Innovation Prize awards and recognizes great ideas and creative initiatives that address improvement in quality of life issues in one’s community, state, nation or world.
For being the sole college recipient of the Oklahoma Innovation Prize, Iradukunda won $5,000 to use in his work and service over the next year.
This is the second straight year for Oklahoma Christian innovators to win this award. Wishing Well earned the honor in 2011 for its continuing work to provide sustainable water wells in poverty-stricken areas around the world. Ryan Groves, a 2011 OC graduate, is chief executive officer of Wishing Well.
“We are proud of Yves, Ryan and all of our students and alumni who are innovators, not just in helping people in need, but inspiring others to help people in need,” OC president John deSteiguer said. “That’s an integral part of our creative culture here at Oklahoma Christian, and I’m excited to see their passion for service celebrated by other leaders in our city and state.”