Lagos—Last week, the United States Mission in Nigeria officially welcomed home 57 talented young Nigerian professionals who recently returned from the Mandela Washington Fellowship at some of U.S. most prestigious colleges and universities. The participants selected from among thousands of extremely qualified candidates represent Nigeria’s best and brightest in the areas of Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, and Public Management.
Speaking at the reunion conference in Lagos, U.S. Consul General Will Stevens encouraged the new Fellows to persist in their efforts to bring about positive change in their communities by promoting economic growth and prosperity, strengthening democratic governance, and fostering peace and security.
“The Fellowship has ended, but you’re energized, full of ideas, and ready to leverage all the new connections you made through the program in the United States,” Consul General Stevens told the returning Fellows. “Don’t let up. Continue your awesome work. Share your experiences with your colleagues, friends, neighbors, and families and be leadership multipliers.”
U.S. Consulate Public Affairs Officer Julie McKay noted that the reunion conference was organized to provide a platform for the new Fellows to share their firsthand experiences and engage in conversations about how to effectively leverage their newly acquired skills and expanded networks.
“We’re already invested in your success, and we’re committed to supporting you in the days ahead by providing resources that will help you to build on your exchange experiences,” McKay said in her remarks to the new Fellows.
During the conference, the Mandela Washington Fellows compared notes on their U.S. experiences, broadened their networks, and received information on funding and professional development opportunities. At a Welcome Reception hosted at the Consul General’s residence, the Fellows engaged U.S. Mission staff and past participants of the program, sharing their aspirations and plans to build on their U.S. experiences and have a positive impact in their local communities.
Since 2014 when the Mandela Washington Fellowship was launched, the U.S. government has sent 6500 young Africans to the United States to empower them through coursework, leadership training, and networking opportunities. Of this number, more than 550 have been Nigerians, including the 57 Fellows who just returned. Nigeria remains the largest contributor of Fellows each year.