Liliane Utamuriza | Aspire

Project Officer Metro
Masters of Environmental Management, University of New South Wales
Bachelor of Science (Biology and Geography) with Education, Kigali Institute of Education (Rwanda)

Liliane grew up in Rusizi, former Gishoma district and small town in Western Rwanda. This is a traditional town located 30 kilometres from the Rusizi River. Liliane was 16 in 1994 when the Rwandan genocide against Tutsi started. After hiding in the forest for a few days, Liliane and her family managed to escape in the dead of night on 15 April helped by the Congolese. Using a technique introduced that saved many people, Liliane and her family were each placed in a plastic sugar bag. They were then swum to safety across the river by the Congolese. The river had a lot of waves and many Rwandans did not know how to swim. During that time, Liliane was in her Year 9 of high school, and she couldn’t believe she would be able to pursue her studies.   

After genocide, the family began a new life, and Liliane continued her education, enrolling at Group Scolaire Saint Francois d’Assise de Shangi (Western Province). After completing high school, Liliane went to university where she was exposed  to many opportunities that she never thought would be possible and provided her with more confidence to pursue her ambition.

After completing her Bachelor’s degree in science with education, Liliane worked as an Inspector of Education for her local district in Rwanda, monitoring and evaluating the compliance of educational standards by the teachers and assisting in the implementation of education for all. Liliane also worked as the Deputy Mayor in charge of social affairs, where she demonstrated the desire to provide critical assistance to vulnerable and disadvantaged community members of her local district.

Liliane travelled to Australia in 2011 for her Masters, and worked with the Multicultural Support Workers Project at Parramatta Migrant Resource Centre.  Her main responsibilities were to promote culturally-competent family intervention by better equipping FACS Caseworkers and Non-Government Organisations with cultural information and language support when working with Multicultural Families in NSW. Liliane has been the Vice President of the Rwandan Community of NSW since 2013 and has been involved in planning and organising community events, including Rwandan Cultural Day and genocide commemoration.

Liliane joined ASPIRE in 2015, and has developed “Yes We Can“, a pilot project designed for African students to raise awareness and aspirations towards higher education.  She has been out delivering workshops in both Sydney and regional NSW, as well as planning and coordinating events on campus. Liliane is passionate about helping people to enrich their lives by promoting education, self-development, and self-reliance and is so excited to be part of the ASPIRE team that works toward this goal every day.

Liliane loves church, sport, music and travelling and enjoys spending time with her children as well as partying with people from her community. Her favourite place on campus is the library lawn where she loves sitting for lunch and relaxing in the sunshine.