Ms Malia Heroux, the Deputy Cultural Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy in Abuja made this known on Friday during the pre-departure orientation for the students.
Heroux said that 35 students applied for the 2019 scholarship programme but only 30 of them were selected, with 27 of them going to the U.S. while the remaining three got the prestigious Mastercards to Ghana.
She said that the students were selected across schools in Nigeria based on academic excellence, demonstrated leadership potential, ethos of giving back to community extracurricular achievement, and talent.
She explained that although the programme was spearheaded by the U.S. embassy in Nigeria, the scholarship and funds were provided by the institutions it partnered with.
“The scholarship is for students who are incredibly high achieving academically but come from backgrounds which are not economically conducive to paying for school fees,” she said.
Heroux said that the scholarship equally cut across students considered to be leaders in their communities and seeking to make a difference in their communities.
“Academically, Education U.S.A. has over 400 advising centres in different countries and we have a larger number of advising in Nigeria because we have such a rich body of created and talented people.
“The funding comes from the school themselves this is why we like to work with the students to identify not only what programmes they want to study but universities that offer such programmes and also in financial position to provide for scholarships.
“So the embassy only pays for some of the small fees as well as the standardise testing, airline tickets.
“We have 30 students who are benefiting from the education U.S.A opportunities funds grants programme.
“We work with many more students throughout the year whose parents can either fund or who are seeking partial scholarship,” Heroux said.
Also speaking, Mr Anton Smith, acting Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy in Abuja said that the U.S. was interested in providing opportunities for exceptional students to study and return to develop their country.
Smith said that the scholarship programme also created opportunities for students to learn more about America and the culture which would further help in strengthening ties between Nigeria and the U.S.
“The main interest is providing opportunities for some of the best performing students in the world and particularly from Nigeria.
“To come and spend time in the U.S. so that they can gain the cultural insight and cultural exchange that helps us draw people together.
“And to give the high performing students an opportunity to gain from some of the best education in the world across the world.
“So that the Nigerian students going to study can have the American experience, come back and help Nigeria to succeed, to create opportunities for aligning on issues of mutual importance or creating opportunities for growth and prosperity.
“All of that helps America when they help Nigeria so it is a win win situation that is very easy for us to see the return on investments” Smith said.
One of the beneficiaries, Abraham Ojodomo, praised the U.S. government for the opportunity and the U.S. Embassy’s Education U.S.A. Advising Centre for providing him with the opportunity to make his dreams come true.
Ojodomo said that he was benefiting from a 76,000-dollar full-funded scholarship to study Computer Science at Franklin and Marshal College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
He said that he graduated from Government Secondary School, Karu, Abuja, but never expected to further his education since his mother was a petty trader, who sold tigernut drink, a local brew.
He said that he planned to return to Nigeria after his studies and establish an Information Technology school in a rural community where the less privileged, intelligent students could have the opportunity to study and achieve their dreams.