Thursday 23rd June 2005

 

US envoy calls on business community: Sponsor Fulbright students now

 
 
 
 
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Ria Ali, from left, Nabeetha Nagalinagam, Carla Philips and Asha Williams, recipients of Fulbright scholarships at the Fulbright 2000 Awards programme last week.

Sponsors of the Fulbright programme.

Photos: Karla Ramoo

BY ASHA JAVEED

There is not enough investment in the human capital of T&T, says US Ambassador Roy Austin. He said while he has noticed an increase in the number of companies in the country, there has not been a corresponding increase in investment in its human resource.

“T&T manages to produce brilliant students with the potential of becoming future leaders who can make a valuable contribution to the country’s development,” Austin said last week.

“For a country like T&T to be a torchbearer in the region as it desires to be, and rightly so, given the wealth of natural resources that abound here, investment in its human capital is mandatory,” Austin said.

He made these remarks at a presentation ceremony of scholars at the Fulbright 2000 Program.

The programme, he said, was conceptualised for the purpose of developing the country’s human resources and by extension, the country.

It is mandatory that all Fulbright Scholars return to T&T for two years after they have completed their studies in the US, he noted.

Austin said the programme has had a good measure of success in attracting corporate sponsors and in identifying deserving students.

He said, though, in order to more closely approach or achieve optimum benefit for T&T, the country needs to substantially increase the number of corporations that are currently involved in this programme.

“The goal is that all the major corporations in T&T will one day embrace this programme and view it as an avenue for assisting this country’s status in as short a time as possible,” he said.

Austin said while the traditional Fulbright scholarships are wholly sponsored by the US government, more could be done.

“My embassy colleagues and I, as well as the CEO’s of a few leading organisations that have recognised the importance of investing in this programme, have knocked on many corporate doors but to no avail,” he said.

One of the problems they have encountered from their detractors has been the cost of the scholarship which can easily fund more than one student in a local institution.

He said studying abroad gives students the opportunity to measure their academic worth on an international level.

“My message this evening to the corporations out there that have the potential but are not yet involved in this programme is: Please sponsor a student now.”

This year Dave Samaroo was awarded the Fulbright 2000 Atlantic Energy Scholarship for Energy Law; Stacey Dillon the Fulbright 2000 Bechtel Scholarship in Construction Engineering; Bevan Narinesingh, the Fulbright 2000 Central Bank Scholarship in Development Economics/Trade; and Terence Campbell, the Fulbright 2000 Tucker Energy Scholarship in Petroleum Engineering.

An additional six scholarships will be sponsored by the US government—Janelle Johnson, Ayana Phillips, Nabeetha Nagalingham, Richard Escalante, Eduardo Ali and Caryll Balliramp.

Promoting goodwill

The Fulbright Alumni Association of T&T (FAATT) was established in 1996 to further the ideals of the Fulbright Program in promoting international understanding, goodwill and peace among all countries and to actively contribute to the education of the leaders of tomorrow.

Its aims and objectives include fostering interaction among Fulbright Alumni in T&T, promoting links with Fulbright Alumni at regional and international levels and enhancing the professional development of members by organising and encouraging their participation in workshops, seminars and continuing professional development programmes relevant to the needs of its members.

President of the alumni association, Grace Les Fouris said it also facilitates Fulbright alumni from other regions on visits to, and travel within, the Caribbean region.

She said despite severe financial constraints, the Fulbright Alumni Association has successfully hosted a number of activities aimed at achieving these objectives.

This includes two conferences, on promoting global understanding, the other on preparing for the job market in the 21st century. They recently concluded a disaster preparedness workshop in April.

“In November of 2003 the association hosted Crossroads of the Americas, an evening of music and dance of T&T and some of our Latin American neighbours which turned out to be extremely enjoyable, and which, by popular demand, we propose to make an annual affair, the next being planned, on a grander scale, for September of this year,” she said.

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