The challenging economic situation in Nigeria is no doubt posing serious threats to the academic pursuit of many students across different institutions of learning in Nigeria. However, in a bid to provide some relief to support the aspirations of some of these students, some well-meaning groups and individuals are providing interventions in different ways.
This was the case at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State when the Dallas Branch, United States of America Chapter, Great Ife Alumni Association was at the institution during its maiden Dallas Scholars Initiative, awarded 52 deserving students from 13 faculties of the University the sum of 10.4-million-naira worth of scholarship for the 2023/2024 academic year.
The event which took place at the Oduduwa Hall of the University had in attendance some top members of the University management led by the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Simeon Bamire. The mood was one of excitement and overwhelming elation for the donors, the beneficiaries as well as the University officials.
Speaking on the objective of the initiative, Adeolu Esho the President of the United States Chapter of the Alumni Association stated that the Dallas project is a give-back and support for their beloved Alma Mater targeted to aid indigent students with financial constraints in pursuit of their academic dreams.
The USA Chapter President further stated that he was co-opted by Dallas Branch President to serve on the Scholarship Award Committee. Providing insights on the criteria for the selection process, “We commenced the process in August 2023 and the beneficiaries were selected based on set criteria ranging from their outstanding academic performance, fascinating application and strict adherence to the laid down instructions, justification of financial needs, personal branding ability and the quality of their written essay” Adeolu Esho explained.
Speaking further on the scholarship initiative, the President of the Awarding Branch, Great Ife Alumni Association, Dallas, Dr. Tunde Adeyemo, explained “Many of our members in the Dallas Branch identify with the struggles of the younger students who are pursuing their education at OAU at a critical time like this. We understand that there are many students who, though exceptionally brilliant, may need some help financially to make it through their degree programmes. We were here and still understanding the peculiar challenges” he said.
Dr. Adeyemo, explained that the beneficiaries of the scholarship award are to be tagged “Dallas Scholars” and are expected to be good ambassadors of the Dallas OAU Alumni branch.
“We will give out scholarships every academic session to indigent students who are diligent and who excel academically” the President added.
The President, Dr. Tunde Adeyemo commended the 52 scholarship awardees, urging them to consider themselves lucky among the over 35,000 students’ populace of the University. He further cited various projects the Association has executed to support the University in the past.
“Our commitment to our Alma Mater and different interventions is to ease the burden of both infrastructural provisions and human capital needs of our beloved University” as a way of being proactive he added.
“For example our Dallas Branch championed the perimeter fencing of Angola Hall of Residence and the donation of equipment for speedy processing transcripts, among other projects”, he enthused. It would be recalled that in 2022, the Dallas Branch of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Alumni Association United States of America donated the sum of Ten Thousand (USD 10,000,000) dollars to the Maternal and Reproductive Health Research Collective of the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital, (LUTH) Idi Araba, as part of measures aimed at providing humanitarian service and medical support for the Save Our Red Cells otherwise referred to as Sickle-Cell Warriors.
A Lagos-based member of the Dallas Alumni Branch, Evangelist Adekunbi Akin-Taylor, expressed satisfaction at the presentation of the scholarship certificates to the beneficiaries after a very thorough process. She commended the visionary foresight of the President of the United States Chapter of the Great Ife Alumni Association and the leadership of the Dallas Branch for their pro-activeness and people-driven projects executed so far on campus.
The Vice-Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Simeon Bamire in his address at the occasion, expressed his appreciation to the Dallas Chapter for the scholarship support and the overall contribution of the alumni association towards the growth, development, sustainability, and maintenance of the values and standards for which the institution is revered among the committee of foremost Universities in Africa while urging the beneficiaries to emulate the donors in the future.
“We are most grateful for the good work and efforts of different alumni branches across the world especially like Dallas Branch, it is unimaginable the effect on any student dropping out of the University due to the challenges of funding is the more reason why interventions such as Dallas Scholars initiative is unquantifiable and the University remains most grateful for their goodwill”, the Vice Chancellor emphasized.
Speaking with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation, and Development of the University, Prof. Akanni Akinyemi expressed the gratitude of the University authority to the Dallas Branch of the OAU Alumni body while admonishing the non-beneficiaries to further seek scholarship opportunities without getting discouraged as they are numerous.
According to him, “Supporting human capital development is the best investment anybody can give to the world as the value remains unquantifiable”.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor noted that; “poorly trained young people will turn out to be a disservice to humanity and the society in general, hence efforts such as that of Dallas Branch are special and commendable” the DVC stated.
One of the beneficiaries, Tadese Ayodele Stephen, a 500 Level Dentistry student who initially doubted the process since the application in 2023, expressed his delight and the timely intervention at such a very challenging economic situation.
“I came across the scholarship offer online as the registration process wasn’t tedious, I had my reservations but when I got the message that I am one of the recipients of the scholarship award, I was surprised because the application was almost six month long” he stated.
Tadese thanked the Dallas Alumni Branch for the initiative while stating that the gesture will further serve as a morale boost for him, and the others, in their academic quests.
Speaking similarly, Sobanke Oluwadoyinsola, a 300-level student of Medicine and Surgery feels elated for the opportunity, expressing profound appreciation to the Dallas Alumni body.
“To be very honest, when I saw the requirements, I was a bit discouraged because I wasn’t sure if I could write a very persuasive personal statement of justification. I just decided to give it a try and fortunately, it turned out positively” she said, adding that she would do everything right to be a good ambassador of the Dallas Scholars.
The Vice-Chancellor on behalf of the University Authority commended the worthy efforts and achievements of the Great Ife Alumni Association, Dallas Branch and other Alumni branches in the US