Marie-France Izere discusses graduating from Regis University

Marie-France Izere found college life to be so different than what she’d expected. The graduating senior recalls thinking professors would share their extensive subject knowledge but be otherwise inaccessible. She didn’t expect to form lifelong friendships with other students. And she didn’t know Regis’ main campus would be so … beautiful. 

“Professors go the extra mile to give you the opportunity to ask questions — as many as you want, as often as you want,” Izere said, still incredulous. “The campus is big and very pretty. A physical space says a lot about the people who work in it. The atmosphere at Regis says it is an institution that cares.” 

Izere, graduating with a neuroscience degree, found Regis through an online Google search. The Denver resident was raised in South Africa, where her family moved in 1994 to escape the genocide in Rwanda. Izere was 2 years old. Her younger brother, Aime Izineza, was an infant. 

Izere’s Durban neighborhood in South Africa encouraged her to dream beyond her refugee circumstances. Her parents, teachers and neighbors inspired Izere to strive for academic excellence.

“When I was accepted into Regis, I really took that advice to heart, academically and interpersonally,” Izere said.

Izere’s parents moved her and Izineza to Denver six years ago with the help of a local refugee services organization. 

Izineza joins Izere on the commencement stage: He graduates with a biology degree. 

“Having someone here I was close to — ‘I know what you’re going through’ — that worked out pretty well,” she said. 

What’s next? Izere is off to do a “gap year” — she hopes to tutor Denver-area students in math and science for a nonprofit group — before jumping back into schoolwork to pursue a Medical Scientist Training degree, which combines a medical degree with a doctorate. She’ll specialize in neuroscience. 

Izere says she’s still in shock to have had a Regis education, only a few years after moving to the United States. 

“I don’t know how this happened, but it’s happening,” she said. “I appreciate my life. I don’t know how to live any other way.”