Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The 125th good thing about Lagos: Helping a student with his education expenses

Well, it's been a while since I posted, so I'm going to try to do a couple of posts that I've been meaning to write since I've been home about events right before I left town. For the past month I've really enjoyed being back in Houston and spending some time with grandchildren and enjoying all the bounty that life in the States has to offer. But life back in Lagos is going on, though it's easy to feel very far away. Before I left Lagos in June, I was able to meet with the university student that I will be sponsoring with the American Women's Club scholarship program for the coming year. David is a medical student in his 4th year -- in the US he would be in his last year of undergraduate work. He was one of the new students that passed the interviews I recently participated in. I gave him half of his first year scholarship which was 35,000 Naira, a little less than $300. This doesn't sound like a lot of money for US college students, but the scholarship will cover most of his expenses for the year. He studies at a university quite a ways away and had to travel about 5 hours each direction on a bus to come up to Lagos to get his money. But when I emailed him and said he would need to come soon or wait until I returned in September, he said he could make the trip that weekend. He came to my house along with his uncle, who he is staying with while he is in town. They were both quiet and a little nervous, but I was very impressed with David and his plans for the future. He wants to be a heart surgeon. The medical school system is less intensive than in the US, it is a 6 year program, which includes the undergraduate education along with medical school. I'm sure (at least I hope) there are interships and other training after graduation, though he said that he was currently doing a lot of clinical work. I was a little less impressed when I saw his grades, which were mostly in the 50% range. But I know from the interview process that good grades are very hard to come by in the Nigerian system. I would just be a bit worried if I knew I were going to a doctor who only understood half of his education. He'll keep track of his expenses and need to report them to me and I'll check in with him by email now and then to make sure he's doing okay in school and managing life. I'll see him again in November when there is a reception and meeting for the club's scholarship students, and then I'll give him the second installment of his scholarship money. Both David and his uncle were very grateful for the assistance the club was giving him. His uncle said that he thought it was a wonderful thing that Americans were helping Nigerian students get an advanced education. I think it is too, and I'm glad for the opportunity to be a mentor.

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