A major problem affecting students’ academic performance in Liberia is lack of financial support to sponsor their university education. Lack of adequate funding keeps students distracted from learning as they have to navigate between two intricate boundary lines. Across one boundary is the struggle to survive while on the other and trying to be a student which demands devoting sufficient time to studying, meeting up with assignment deadlines, and staying above average. To successfully navigate these two boundaries requires a balancing act. This is almost impossible if one looks at the presently realities in Liberia.
Among the University of Liberia’s over 20,000 students who face this situation are Chuckey Radamel Thomas and Deddeh Korpo Sammy. Both are Junior students enrolled in the Department of Communication and Media Studies. In separate testimonials, the two speak of their motivations for pursuing journalism studies. Ms. Sammy is motivated by the desire and passion to give voice to minority groups, to expose waste and abuse by public officials, and to ordinary citizens the free space to voice their concerns so that leaders can take corrective actions.
Mr. Thomas is motivated by the desire to see a highly professional and stronger media in Liberia.
Having these excellent motivations and zest is one thing; seeing them fulfilled is quite another. Deddeh and Chuckey come from poor families where they are not the only ones to be cared for. The unstable incomes in their families cannot cope with meeting the needs of the family, let alone them. Consequently, like most students in Liberia, they make it a-day-at-a-time; hoping Divine help will make some kind of intervention in “due season’.
That due season finally came and brought glimmers of hope for Deddeh Sammy and Chuckey Thomas. On 20 June 2022, the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) pledged – under a scholarship – to support the pair up to their graduation from the University of Liberia. Under the scholarship initiative – named in honor of veteran Liberian journalist, Joe Teh (deceased) – the two students will receive semester allowances that will help to meet their study needs. ALJA’s Vice President, Samuel Wai Johnson, Jr. presented the scholarships to the pair and encouraged them to work harder and become good ambassadors of ALJA and their department.
The scholarship will eventually stretch to more students and will include provisions of supportive learning tools/materials such as computers and books, according to the association’s President, Joe Mason.
Most of the members of ALJA are alumni of our department now residing in the Diaspora, particularly in the United States. With this support from ALJA, Deddeh and Chuckey can now devote greater portion of their time to studying to maintain the support – this they pledged to do in separate ‘thank you’ letters to ALJA.