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Alabama State University attracts African students

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 4/25/2013, 3:53 p.m.
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One historically Black university is strengthening its ties to Africa by trying to attract more African students to come to America for higher education. Alabama State University (ASU) announced this month that it's finalizing new partnerships with the African countries of Malawi, Nigeria and Botswana in a push to increase international student enrollment. ASU's enrollment of international students continues to increase, most recently through the creation of new partnerships with countries in Africa.

Freddie Williams Jr., director of admissions and recruitment, recently met with Malawian President Joyce Banda in Washington, D.C., and awarded scholarships for 25 of her country's qualified students. Williams said providing the scholarships helps ASU with international recruitment and helps to advance the university's legacy.

"We are really looking at expanding our international reach, so this was a tremendous opportunity for us to do that," Williams said. "ASU was founded as a college for people who were denied access to educational outlets. Malawi is an extremely poor country and a lot of those students would not otherwise receive an education if not for these scholarship opportunities; we are fulfilling a need."

The scholarships were facilitated through a partnership that developed between Cherise Peters, associate provost and vice president for enrollment management, and Lindy Blanchard of 100X Development Foundation, which runs various programs in Malawi for orphan care, education and agriculture.

"One of the things 100X was looking to fulfill was the educational needs for children in Malawi," Williams said. "We decided ASU was going to do all it could to help these children get pathways to an education, so we came up with the idea that we would offer scholarships to those students who meet the requirements and who would like to come to ASU."

The scholarships will be distributed to the students through the Joyce Banda Foundation and will be finalized and processed by ASU's Office of Admissions and Recruitment. Each student selected will receive tuition and room and board for four years.

In an article appearing in the Nyasa Times, Banda said she was grateful to receive the scholarships.

"My vision for Malawi is to eradicate poverty through economic growth and wealth creation," Banda said. "There is no better tool than giving [students] access to higher education."

ASU also has developed partnerships with Nigeria and Botswana. Both countries have agreed to sponsor students to attend ASU.

Steve Havron, director of ASU's Office of Minority and International Affairs, and Dr. David Iyegha, a Nigerian native and chair of the English and humanities department, will accompany admissions representatives to Nigeria this spring to finalize the scholarship details. Williams will travel to Africa later this month to meet with educational representatives to finalize the agreement in Botswana.

"The beauty of these two partnerships is that if we can get the students to come to ASU, the government will pay for their education,"

Williams said. "They will be fully funded students, and that will be a great opportunity for ASU to increase diversity on campus."