Nineteen high-achieving, low-income students from southern Nigeria have received full scholarships totaling $2.17 million to attend American universities and colleges for the 2020/2021 academic session, a statement from the US consulate said on Friday.
This feat was made possible through the Opportunity Funds Program of the United States Consulate General in Lagos, with support from Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited.
During a reception held in Lagos in honor of the U.S. bound students, United States Consul General Claire Pierangelo congratulated each of them on their successes. She urged the scholars to make the most of their opportunity to get a top-notch education while gaining first-hand experience of American life and culture.
“The U.S. Mission in Nigeria is pleased that our two major EducationUSA centers in Lagos and Abuja help brilliant, deserving and high achieving students defray the cost of applying to study in the U.S. You have successfully navigated the daunting U.S. college and university admissions process and we are so excited for your future.”
“During your time in the United States, please take full advantage of every opportunity you have not only to learn but to expand your horizon. You have excelled in Nigeria and I have no doubt that you will continue on that path of academic excellence in the United States,” Consul General Pierangelo told the departing students.
Izunna Okpala, one of the 2020 Opportunity Fund Program scholars, received full funding for a Ph.D. program in Information Technology with concentration in Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing at the University of Cincinnati. He described the EducationUSA Opportunity Funds Program as a “game changer” in his quest to receive an international education.
The 19 departing students — 2 undergraduates and 17 graduate students —will be studying a variety of majors including Infectious Diseases, Biomedical Sciences, Engineering, Chemistry, Climate Change and Climate Variability, Geology, and Political Science. Their impressive list of acceptances includes University of Massachusetts Boston, Purdue University, Duke University, Northwestern University, among others.
Now in its 11th year, the Opportunity Funds Program assists talented and determined, low-income students who are good candidates for financial assistance from U.S. colleges and universities but lack the financial resources to cover the up-front cost of obtaining admission.
Following a competitive selection process, the successful students received financial aid that covered expenses involved in the college application process such as payment for standardized tests, application fees, visa and SEVIS fees as well as air travel to the United States. EducationUSA advisers also worked closely with the students through regularly scheduled meetings and seminars to assist them throughout the application process.
According to the latest Institute of International Education Open Doors Report, Nigeria retained its top ranking as the number one source of African students studying in the United States. About 13,762 Nigerians study at more than 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities.