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US Mission Celebrates 75th Anniversary of Fulbright Program

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The US Consulate in Lagos on Saturday commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright Program, the US government-sponsored flagship international educational exchange initiative.

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946, under legislation introduced by the late Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas, and currently operates in over 160 countries.

The program awards approximately 8,000 scholarships annually to U.S. and international students and young professionals to study and conduct research.

US Consul General Claire Pierangelo said the program, the largest and most prestigious of its kind in the world, was designed specifically to promote peace through dialogue.

According to Pierangelo, the Fulbright program is not only an integral part of U.S. mission activities, but more importantly, a fundamental part of how international bilateral partnerships and shared priorities are supported.

“We sometimes forget that Senator Fulbright was a very forward-thinking man, who was shocked by the state of the world in the 1960s.

“He then created this scholarship program as a way to foster communication, relationships and build world peace.

“Through the program, students are able to broaden and strengthen the diversity of the educational institutions from which they come while developing lifelong friendships.

“I encourage scholars to continue giving back to communities through alumni activities, she said.

The Consul General also urged academics to step up Fulbright recruitment mentoring in Nigerian universities, to help the mission support stronger candidates in the arts and social sciences.

She said most of the applications received each year were science-oriented, adding that this was remarkable, but expansion was needed in other areas.

“In order to perfect these activities, I encourage you to seek sources of funding from local and international partners.

“Also push for their implementation in Nigerian institutions in the areas of education, youth empowerment, prevention of sexual harassment and drug abuse,” she said.

The president of the Fulbright Alumni Association in Nigeria, Adele Garkida, stressed the importance of maintaining the network, adding that the impact of the program on advanced research was unparalleled.

Garkida, an associate professor, said the association is focused on mentoring future scholars to increase the number of fellows who will give back to society.

“I am one of those who have benefited from this program. As an association, we are involved every year in mentoring in our local bases to improve the number of participants as well as the quality of their application.

“For this reason, over the years we hold our annual conference between February, March or April to coincide with the timing of the application process,” she said.

Garkida was the first to acquire a PhD in Glass Technology from a Nigerian University and the pioneering Head of Department, Glass and Silicate Technology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Also, a Fulbright Scholar and Professor of Business and Economics, Steve Onyeiwu, said he was delighted to return to Nigeria and support one of the universities.

Onyeiwu said he was able to interact with graduate students from Covenant University and share experiences from the program, while supporting and mentoring them in the process of finding opportunities in the United States.

“It is exciting to have started doing what I promised in my Fulbright proposal, which is to mentor Nigerian students and improve the ability of universities to deliver quality education to students.

“I am impressed not only with the way young Nigerians are, but also with their drive and desire to succeed.

“I am grateful and grateful to the US government for giving me the opportunity to contribute my quota to the education system in Nigeria,” he said.

Onyeiwu is currently working on how technological innovation can be used to promote economic development in Nigeria.

(NOPE)