Marie-Rose Sebikali, Payroll Manager
Marie-Rose Sebikali, payroll manager for IntraHealth, says that when she first moved to the US in 1997, she “couldn’t make a conversation in English.” Originally from Rwanda, Marie-Rose was building a successful career with the Ministry of Planning when the Rwanda tragedy unfolded in 1994, changing her life dramatically.
Marie-Rose and her two children were able to move to join her husband in Togo. Three years later, Marie-Rose moved to the US. With two bachelor degrees under her belt already, Marie-Rose embarked on an MBA program in international banking both to learn English well and to get a degree recognized by US employers in hopes that would help her re-start her career.
Her plan succeeded: Marie-Rose began working as an accounting technician for Intrah in 2001—back when the organization was still a part of the University of North Carolina. She says that she didn’t think when she started that she would be at Intrah for more than a year.
But then, that first year passed. “I really enjoyed the people, and it was such a nice environment. I thought, ‘Maybe I should wait. It will be better if I look for other opportunities after I’ve been here two years.’” During her second year, Intrah started moving toward leaving the university and becoming an independent nonprofit. “I thought, ‘Wow. That would be a good opportunity,’” she says. “So I said, ‘I’m not going anywhere. I want to be a part of something new.’”
That’s when she became charged with starting up payroll and managing payroll for staff paid by the Chapel Hill office. “We jumped in the water and started swimming without knowing how to swim,” she notes with a laugh. “It was a really unique experience that few people have—to really see how an organization is created and how it grows.”
“IntraHealth has impacted my life because when I left my country, I left everything. But when I came to the US and was able to find this rewarding job, it just put things back in a sense. I was able to regain my confidence,” she explains. “And I got a unique experience of starting a part of the Finance Department, and that will stay with me forever.”