Tag Archives: scholarship

Competition for English

Community engagement can come in various forms.  Service is one of the best ways internationalesawyer engages with the community.  Service is a vast domain and can include simple participation in town hall meetings, or formally serving on a board.  Recently internationalesawyer was asked to serve as an expert panel judge for an English competition among university students at CFPEM International located in Ouagadougou.  This is not the first time that internationalesawyer has partnered with this university.  In the past the director of the school approached internationalesawyer to be a monthly guest lecturer to business students. The objective there was to give lectures in English and organize career counseling (i.e. practice interviews) to students in fields such as accounting.

When approached to be a judge for the English competition, there was only one answer…YES! The competition included an essay and oral presentation in which competing students from CFPEM were given topics that ranged from improving the school system in Burkina Faso to the current epidemic of Ebola affecting West Africa.  As one of the 3 judges, we made the rules and criteria. The 7 candidates all had 5 minutes to present their topic, and then 1 min 30 seconds for each question.  The candidates were scored on criteria that included grammar, verbal and non-verbal communication, and dress.  This was no easy competition as the stakes were high.  Some of the prizes included scholarship money, tablets, and even a laptop.  For all the candidates English is either their third or fourth language. In some cases the fifth language they speak.  To write a 3-5 page essay on serious topics such as youth employment and healthcare is no easy feat.  The candidates all gave their very best effort which showed in the scores.  However, the judging was not easy as well.  We were objective as possible and what made it easier to be objective we did not have prior contact with the candidates. All the judges knew was their essay by number.

The English competition was held on a Friday October 10th.  The results were strategically released at graduation the following day.  Out of the 7 candidates the first 5 took home prizes.  Nevertheless, those who did not win a physical prize, still won as they gained experience in oral presentation, essay writing, and the spirit of competing.


Recognition Scholarship

Internationalesawyer wins the Robert C. Ford Scholarship for school year 2012-2013.  This scholarship is awarded to students at Capella University in honor of Dr. Robert C. Ford who served as a dean of the Capella University School of Human Services from 1999 to 2001 when he passed away. This scholarship is granted to students who demonstrate academic superiority and have professional objectives that reflect the mission of Dr. Robert C. Ford which were to help people help themselves, while serving traditionally undeserved and disadvantaged members of society.

The award amount is 4000 USD distributed over 4 quarters. I was awarded this scholarship due to my work with disadvantaged people and work in those communities.  The award goes into effect this quarter October 2012 through October 2013.  I am very pleased and honored to have won this scholarship that helps me with my graduate studies and recognizes the work I do with underserving populations.

For more information visit https://campus.capella.edu/web/financial-aid/scholarships/robert-c-ford-scholarship

The official congratulations email letter:

Hello Unkonda,

The Robert C. Ford Scholarship Committee met last Friday, and you have been awarded this scholarship, effective Fall quarter 2012.  In the next day or two, you will receive the official award information and the Scholarship Agreement/Release form to sign and return by which you accept this scholarship and its conditions.

Congratulations on a job well done!

Scholarships and Grants Team

Academic Affairs

Capella University

Ishmil on top: Update to the “It might be better to be an underdog”

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July 28, 2012 Ouagadougou, the American Language Center had its open house and closing ceremony for the summer English vacation classes.  My student Ishmil who won the English Learning Scholarship tested into level 4 which is intermediate.  He ended the summer course with full participation and passing his summer lesson.  I was present at the Open House to see the classes perform a piece they created all in English and present it to the audience that housed their parents, United States Embassy personnel, the teachers and assorted staff of the American Language Center (including the director Lynn Ouedraogo).  The ceremony started at 4 pm and ended at nearly 7 pm.  The students ranging from level 1-6 all displayed their English level through singing, speeches, and theatre.  Each class was on display showing the work of the students during the month long summer camp.  I was impressed with the accomplishments of all and more so with Ishmil who came from a village 4 hours away to participate.  While other students were driving their cars or motos to the summer camp; Ishmil came every day by his bicycle even when it rained. He is a hardworking student. I hope he continues his studies in English.

English learning scholarship


What can be done to motivate, inspire, and decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies at a local high school in rural Burkina Faso?  That is the task that the school administration asked of me in the start of 2011.  After an intensive weekend of brainstorming and reflecting, I came up with an English learning scholarship.  One thing I knew was that everybody in this francophone country wants to learn English. And even more true is that people in villages want to learn proper english.  I decided to make this then the prize.  The rules were as follows: pick the class that had no pregnancies or births, then choose students that had the most hours of community service for the first round of the competition.  The second round of the competition was to have those students that had the highest amount of community service hours then write an essay in english stating why english is important and why they want to learn English.  From there I would select the best essay and the winner would be awarded 1 month english lessons Monday – Friday at the American Language Center Ouagadougou.