2023 WLSA CAN African Conference Tour:
Forging Pathways to Higher Education

​In October 2023, WLSA’s College Admission Network (CAN) embarked on the WLSA CAN African Conference Tour, a pioneering event that aimed to bridge the gap between secondary schools and universities from across the world. This tour, held from October 10th to 14th, across locations in southern Africa, welcomed top admissions leaders from leading universities, including Boston University, Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University, Rice University, The University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, Vanderbilt University, and Washington University in St. Louis. Accompanied by Dr Jack Jia, WLSA’s Executive Director, these representatives visited five prestigious secondary schools in South Africa and Botswana: African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, Westville Boys’ High School and Westville Girls’ High School in Durban, the American International School in Cape Town, and Maru-a-Pula School in Gaborone, offering valuable insights and opportunities to local students. This tour provided an enriching experience, and we extend our gratitude to the host schools for their warm welcome and the opportunity to engage with their students and staff. These engagements offered students unique chances to broaden academic horizons, providing invaluable exposure and insights into the diverse opportunities presented by these prestigious universities.

Since its inception in 2013, WLSA’s College Admission Network, has dedicated itself to creating a strong network between respected secondary schools and universities globally. Its mission involves equipping secondary students, parents, college counselors, and school leaders with a thorough grasp of educational philosophies, application procedures, and campus life. Concurrently, it provides universities with valuable insights on secondary education from various continents, enhancing their international connections. Over the years, CAN has organized numerous conferences, forums, and events, promoting educational exchange and collaboration.


The 2023 WLSA CAN African Conference Tour embodies the organization's latest initiative, establishing a unique platform for African secondary school students and university delegates to engage in meaningful cross-cultural dialogue and partnership. Keynote addresses from university representatives were a highlight, offering valuable guidance and perspectives on higher education. Panel discussions facilitated in-depth conversations, providing students with further advice and a wealth of information. University fairs opened avenues for students to explore diverse career paths and learn about different university programs and majors, while also enabling direct interactions with university representatives, fostering personalized inquiries and deeper insights into the academic opportunities available.

The 2023 WLSA CAN African Conference Tour represents a stride in advancing global education, facilitating critical linkages between secondary schools and universities, transcending geographical boundaries and unlocking a world of educational possibilities. This successful venture in Africa marks the third continent visited by WLSA CAN, following impactful tours in the UK and China; and most recently at WLSA’s 2023 Global Students Conference held in Shanghai, which hosted students from six continents, attests to the organization’s growing international footprint. Africa, with its vibrant cultural diversity and dynamic educational environment, makes it an ideal setting for such transformative events. The 2023 WLSA CAN African Conference Tour’s success not only highlights our commitment to global educational outreach but also paves the way for expanding our global presence, strengthening our role in advancing international educational ties and deepening cultural understanding.

The CAN Africa Tour Representatives


Kelly Walter, Chairwoman of WLSA CAN, and Associate Vice President for Enrolment and Dean of Admissions of Boston University


Jessica Marinaccio, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions & Financial Aid of Columbia University


Shawn Felton Co-Director of WLSA CAN, and Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions of Cornell University


Dr Carol Kim, Vice President, Global Recruitment, and Admissions & Financial Aid of New York University


Dr Yvonne Romero, Vice President for Enrolment of Rice University


Peter Wilson, Co-Director of WLSA CAN, and Assistant Vice President & Dean of College Admissions of the University of Chicago


Whitney Soule, Vice Provost and Dean of Admissions of University of Pennsylvania


Dr Kedra Ishop, Vice President for Enrolment Management of University of Southern California


Dr Douglas Christiansen, Chairman of WLSA CAN, and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid & Vice Provost for University Enrolment Affairs of Vanderbilt University


Ronné Turner, Vice Provost for Admissions & Financial Aid of Washington University in St. Louis


*Please note that this is listed in alphabetical order of the universities represented.

‘The gathering marked a significant milestone as these influential leaders, responsible for shaping the academic futures of countless students, convened for the African Conference Tour. Our campus was abuzz with excitement, as our motivated MaP students engaged with these distinguished representatives, fostering an environment of global learning and collaboration.’

Maru-a-Pula School

Students were enthusiastic about the events, too.

‘This WLSA event is a fantastic opportunity for us. It enables us to make an impression in front of the universities. It also helps them understand our passions and the context we're coming from. It will guide us toward the passions we're following in the future and the things we want to do in Africa. I feel we have an edge over most schools, because this opportunity is truly uncommon,’


King, a student from African Leadership Academy.


*the universities appear in alphabetical order