(as prepared for delivery)
Good morning! If you will please allow me to use my favorite Nigerian expression: All protocols observed.
Congratulations to all of you who have been selected to attend U.S. colleges and universities. I know many of you have also been awarded scholarships. I am proud and pleased to see so many outstanding young people here today. I know you will be the next generation of leaders and scholars, scientists and artists, assuring Nigeria’s future is bright indeed.
We have students in the audience who have been accepted to prestigious institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania, Lafayette College, Tufts University, Vassar College, Northern Kentucky University, and the University of Kansas.
These students will pursue a variety of majors, including electrical engineering, public health, computer science, business, chemistry, and economics.
I would also like to recognize the U.S. Mission’s EducationUSA Advising Centers, which have helped thousands of young Nigerians achieve their dreams to study in the United States. This year alone, advisees received numerous scholarships from several universities totaling of over $4.6 million.
According to the latest Institute of International Education’s Open Doorsreport, Nigeria experienced a remarkable increase in the number of students pursuing higher education in the United States. Almost 9,500 Nigerians are studying at more than 730 colleges and universities in the United States.
Compared to the previous school year, nearly 20 percent more Nigerians are enrolled at a U.S. college or university. This rise fueled, almost single-handedly, Africa’s overall student number increase of eight percent. Nigeria is the top African source country and the 15th nation worldwide with students in the United States.
The success of our EducationUSA program is a testament to the value in an American education, a highly coveted U.S. export.
I am also pleased to open this orientation program, which will give you some crucial information on studying in the United States. Please take advantage of this opportunity to prepare yourself for the adventure that awaits you. You are going to be representing your country to many people who may never have met an African or a Nigerian before. I urge you to be ambassadors for Nigeria and to take seriously your responsibilities to be good citizens and scholars.
But of course, I also urge you to have fun and to take advantage of every positive opportunity that comes your way.
On behalf of the U.S. Mission to Nigeria, I congratulate every one of you. You make us proud, your parents proud, and all of Nigeria proud.
Good luck and do well!