Transformational Leadership Program - Scholarships and Partnerships

Aspiring Computer Scientist to Swim in Rio 2016 Olympics

TLP-SP scholar Lum Zhaveli will compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics this summer. He will travel to Rio in early August.

Zhaveli, who received a fully-funded scholarship from USAID’s Transformational Leadership Program – Scholarships and Partnerships, is currently earning a master’s degree in computer science at the University of Arizona. In placing Zhaveli, World Learning staff sought a program that would meet his high academic ambitions and allow him to pursue his dream of representing his country in the Olympics.

“I spend most of my free time at the pool,” said Zhaveli describing his swimming schedule at the University of Arizona. “I can do up to four hours of swimming a day – and it takes me another two hours to commute to and from the pool.”

“The computer science department here is great. Loads of people get to work for the top tech companies,” said Lum, whose name means river in Albanian. Alongside his swimming career, the scholar juggles classes in management information systems, green computing and computer graphics.

He started swimming when he was 12 years old while on holidays with his dad. At the start of his career in Kosovo, Lum trained in very small seventeen-meter pools.

Since then, he has traveled through Greece, Britain, Slovenia and now finally the United States to pursue his athletic and academic career.

The swimmer usually competes in the 50-meter breaststroke and 100-meter butterfly categories. In Rio, he will be competing in 50-meter freestyle.

“I want to lecture in Kosovo. I think I will be the first person to teach classes like these once I return back home,” said Lum on his future career plans.

Zhaveli will be in Rio de Janero from August 2 to August 22.

The Transformational Leadership Program - Scholarships and Partnerships (TLP-SP) is a partnership co-funded by USAID-Kosovo and the Government of Kosovo and administered by World Learning. The project, launched on February 24, 2014, will develop a cadre of leaders and equip the abilities of other Kosovars to drive change in priority economic, political, and social areas in Kosovo. Learn more at

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