The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, says her country has facilitated 28 million dollars scholarships for Nigerian students to study in US institutions in the past one year.
Leonard said this on Thursday at the commemoration of the Student Visa Day organised by the US Mission in Abuja.
She said the scholarship process was facilitated by the Education USA programme of the embassy, which was keen on enabling Nigerian students pursue their academics and a future in the US.
She said: “We are proud to prioritise Nigeria’s scholars in our consular process, as we recognise the value their success holds for the country’s future.
“With over 13,700 students fulfilling their American education dreams, the United States welcomes more Nigerian students enrolled than ever before.
“Americans view university study as an investment in a professional future.
“And I’m pleased that our Education USA team has helped Nigerian students apply for and receive more than 28 million dollars in scholarships and other educational funding to pursue their future.
“We know from our over 8,000 education and exchange programme alumni in Nigeria, the tremendous community impact that results when these ambitious students return to apply their knowledge and skills.
“Here at the US Embassy, we are proud of the diversity in American educational institutions.
“There are more than 8,000 Students and Exchange Visitor Programme-certified educational institutions in the United States.”
The Envoy also noted that beyond studying in the US, the programme provides the opportunity for Nigerian students to meet with US citizens and other nationals, which will help in strengthening bilateral ties.
Leonard said with more than one million students from 220 countries and territories, the United States hosts more international students than any other country in the world.
She revealed that Nigeria sent more students to the United States than any other country in Africa.
She said: “Students at our universities exchange ideas not only with American students, but with students from across the globe.
“The educational enrichment that these types of discussions provide is priceless.
“As students, you will hear ideas and personal stories from your classmates and professors that will challenge your views.
“And also expand your understanding of the world; your ideas and stories will do the same for those around you.”
According to Leonard, by studying together in the same schools, Nigerians, Americans, and students from all other nationalities will not only understand each other better, but also see how many common challenges we all face.
“Students can work together to creatively solve problems and build long-term professional collaborations, increasing our countries’ economic ties.”
Leonard, therefore, congratulated the beneficiaries, who were present as she urged them to stay focused in their studies in other to make meaningful impact in the country when they return.
Malate Atajiri, an Education USA Adviser, said the opportunities fund programme seeks to identify and support high achieving low income students who otherwise will not have been able to navigate or finance the process.
Atajiri said the programme helps to support aspiring students towards securing full scholarships from top colleges in the US.
Atajiri said: “The programme finances the process right from the testing stage, their application fees and even paying for their flight tickets after they have secured the funding.
“This year, opportunity funds programme in Abuja supported 50 students to secure $4 million in scholarships at some of the most competitive colleges and institutions in North America.
“Since the programme started, we have placed over 320 students with full funding in the US the programme also has a strong ethos of giving back.
“Although we have many students who have done and continue to do great things, Education USA is committed to helping young Nigerians who are interested in studying in the US.
“We help students to navigate that process and help them realize their dreams of a US education.”
Atajiri added that the Education USA had six centres in Nigeria: Abuja, Lagos, Jos, Calabar and Ibadan, where aspiring students could visit to learn more and get more information on the programmes and processes.