Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Representing Nigeria well

Tolu Alabi is a graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa.  She is a recipient of the Stanford Africa MBA Fellowship.  Joseph Ekpenyoung studied math at Bates College in Maine and is now giving back by teaching math at the African Leadership Academy in South Africa.  Daniel Akuma attended Kenyon College in Ohio and got accepted into the top eight medical schools in the United States.

What is common among these three young Nigerians?  They are all beneficiaries of the Opportunity Fund Program, popularly referred to as EducationUSA Achievers Program (EdSAP) of the U.S. Embassy Abuja.  The program assists highly qualified but low-income students to finance upfront costs of obtaining admission into U.S. universities with full financial aid.  One common feature of all three is that they went to public schools, including Federal Government Academy Suleja and Model Secondary school.

They are not alone as about 180 students have successfully gone through the program since it began in 2004 and are currently studying or have graduated from various universities in the United States.  This year, 12 students are going to universities including Auburn College, Tufts University, Vassar College, and the University of California, Berkeley.  These students, including four other graduate students, together received scholarships valued at $2.8 million.

Mubarak Ibrahim Mohammed graduated from Government Secondary School Gwagwalada and will attend Mississippi Valley State University to study computer science and mathematics.  He explained that it took lots of dedication and hard work to go through the process and to secure admission with full funding.  Apart from passing the required exams with very high grades, he had to write several essays.  He sent drafts to alumni of the program and EducationUSA advisors to review and edit until his hard work paid off.

Prince Michael Agbo Michael credits his parents support for his success.  He was exempted from some house chores because he needed up to eight hours of daily study.  His parents are proud that he received a full scholarship to Colgate University in New York, where he hopes to double major in neuroscience and computer science.  He graduated from the School for the Gifted Gwagwalada.

Talent and creativity also emanate from these brilliant students.   Two EdSAP students designed a T-shirt that the entire incoming freshman class at Tufts University will wear.  In the spirit of giving back, these same students heading to the United States are reviewing applications for next year to help select the next set of EdSAP students.

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