A total of 30 young Nigerians including a 17-year-old alumnus of Meiran Community Senior High School, Lagos, a government-owned secondary school, Ekene Ezeunala, have received scholarships to study at various universities in the United States of America.
The beneficiaries took part in the 2021 edition of Opportunity Fund Programme by EducationUSA, a United States Department of State network of more than 430 international student advising centres operating in about 175 countries and territories across the world,
A statement issued on Thursday by an information specialist at the public affairs section of the U.S Consulate General in Lagos, Temitayo Famutimi, noted that the scholarship opportunities are worth a total of $4.35 million dollars amounting to more than N1.644 billion, using the official exchange rate of one American dollar to N411.
According to the statement, six of the beneficiaries including Master Ezeunala, will be studying various undergraduate programmes while three others are to enrol for Master’s programmes and 21 of them are awarded scholarships for doctoral studies.
The programmes of study include Neuroscience, Biomedical Engineering, Bioinformatics, Computer Science and Engineering while the list of the universities they will be attending include the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Columbia University, Princeton University, Purdue University, University of Pennsylvania, among others.
Speaking during a reception held in their honour on Thursday, the U.S Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, urged them to make the most of their opportunity to get a top-notch education while gaining first-hand experience of American life and culture.
She said: “I congratulate each one of you on your tremendous success. Your success is evidence of your leadership, academic performance, and the great potential young Nigerians hold for the future of this country.
“This is a very important step in your life. I strongly encourage you to maximize this opportunity. This is not just in reference to your education as you have proven yourselves to be academically outstanding students. I am also referring to your chance to broaden your horizons and embrace the diversity of people around you and learn, not just about America, but also about other cultures.”
In his reaction, Master Ezeunala, who received full funding to study Computer Science and Mathematics at Columbia University, New York City, described the opportunity as “a truly life-changing experience.”
“It opened up a whole new world of opportunities and resources I never knew were available to me,” Ezeunala added.
Also commenting, another beneficiary and the first student to earn a first class degree in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Urinrin Otite, said the programme was what she needed to achieve her dream of studying in the U.S.
“And I would recommend reaching out to EducationUSA as the perfect first step to anyone hoping to study in the US,” said Otite, who will be pursuing a doctoral degree in Civil Engineering with a research focus on resilient and sustainability of structures and infrastructure systems at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania.
13,762 Nigerians studying in the U.S
Meanwhile, the statement added that in the latest Institute of International Education Open Doors Report says Nigeria retains its top ranking as the number one source of African students studying in the United States with about 13,762 Nigerians studying at more than 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities.
The development, education experts maintain, is an indictment on the government of Nigeria over what they described as its poor investment in the education sector.
They described the exodus of young Nigerians abroad for academic opportunities as capital flight, and urged the government to reposition the nation’s education system to be qualified to attract quality foreign staff and students.
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