Uchechukwu Nnaike

Plans are underway for the inauguration of a scholarship scheme that will provide an opportunity for exceptional Nigerian students to attend Yale University, a private, Ivy League research institution, based in Connecticut, USA.

This was announced recently when the university’s prominent alumni members met for the second time within a year in Lagos, under the aegis of the Yale Club.

President of the club and founder of Zaria Academy, Dr. Haroun Adamu, said the club’s main goal is to create awareness about its existence and objectives. “One of the aims is to attract more qualified Nigerian students to the institution and encourage other accomplished alumni members in the diaspora to return home and contribute their quota to Nigeria’s development.”

Adamu, who attended Yale in 1966, said the club also wants to sensitise Nigerians, who have either heard of Yale or would want their children to attend the institution, about its willingness to assist their wards not only for admission purposes, but also for scholarship opportunities.

To him, any student that went through the rigorous Yale examination process and emerged successfully automatically deserves a scholarship. “There is no question about his ability or inability, he is on scholarship automatically.”

On the club’s other aims, he said, “we intend to create a forum, organise lectures, and we will invite professors, Nobel Laureates, to come and share with us their latest research findings in all fields. This will expose Nigerians to what is happening in the world of research. These are the kind of things we are trying to achieve, apart from Yale itself trying to engage with institutions within Africa.”

Yale’s Director of International Activities and Professor of Political Science, Ian Shapiro, affirmed that the club is working on developing a scholarship scheme for Nigerian students to attend the university. “We also would like to bring students and faculty members from Yale to Nigeria on exchange programmes.”

Shapiro said the institution also intends to facilitate research projects along many dimensions in the West African sub region. “We already have a long history in Ghana, but we don’t have any institutional history in Nigeria.”
Asked if the institution is planning to establish a campus in Nigeria, Shapiro said no. “We are not in the satellite campus business,” he declared, but said he hopes to see more Nigerians at Yale and more of Yale’s activities happening in the country. “I look forward to more students (going to Yale), more faculty (coming to Nigeria), more conferences, more exchanges and more alumni coming and going.”

On how many Nigerian students are currently studying in the university, Shapiro said: “I don’t have the exact number, probably 20 to 25, and when you include all the professional schools (within Yale), maybe 30.”

Explaining the motive behind the formation of the club, he said, “there are more than 100 graduates of Yale University in Lagos, but we haven’t had a formal Yale Club as we have in many other cities where we have a sizeable alumni. About two years ago, we thought it was overdue to establish a Yale Club in Lagos because we have a big initiative on Africa in Yale and we are trying to build relationships. We have so many distinguished alumni here and we are working with them to develop our activities on the continent.”

Recalling his days in Yale, Haroun said: “I went to Yale in 1966, two years behind President George Bush junior (former President of the United States). His father, President George Bush senior, graduated in 1948. So, Bush junior was my contemporary and as I was leaving, both Hillary and Bill Clinton (also a former US President) were coming into Yale to study Law.

“John Kerry (US Secretary of State) was a 1963 graduate of Yale. So, you can see that Yale has a history of public service -producing Supreme Court justices, House of Representatives members, senators and presidents. These are what Yale is known for- producing people to serve people and these are the ideals that have made us to come back and be of service.”
The club officially took off in Lagos on July 11, 2015.