What does the U.S. have to offer? An ever so common question asked by the Samoan community, especially with the school year just beginning. Parents, teachers and students were eager to find out what is out there and available as they start to explore their options for higher education.
This urged the EducationUSA Adviser, Sharon Mona to build public awareness on what the U.S. has to offer in terms of how one may go about obtaining a scholarship to study in the U.S. For the past week, the American Corner, upstairs at the Nelson Memorial library, was bustling with parents, teachers and students as Ms. Mona, and several guest speakers, took them through a five-step process in demystifying U.S. higher education. This process includes; researching school options, financing one’s studies, completing one’s application, applying for a student visa and preparing for departure.
The seminars included presentations from the Meredith sisters; Aileen & Leleaga, and the U.S. Embassy Apia Consular section.
The Meredith sisters both received golf scholarships and graduated from U.S. Universities in 2015 and in 2017. They spoke about how hard they worked, both in the classroom and on the golf course, to earn a scholarship and the admissions processes for their respective universities. They also shared how their family and friends invested their education and well-being, both during their high school years and throughout university. While in school, they spoke of the importance of athletes, especially those on scholarship, to follow all protocols, academic regulations, and even to uphold a social media persona as they were viewed as representatives of the University. Finally, they went on to share their experience in a different culture, and the challenges of being so far from home.
For another seminar, U.S. Embassy Apia’s Consular Assistant was on hand to provide a very detailed orientation on how students can successfully apply for student visas. She emphasized different types of student visas, explained critical documents that are required, and explained the lengthy process. Great emphasis was placed on the seriousness of U.S. immigration laws and expectations of applicants with regards to abiding by the regulations of their student visas.
“This was an eye opener and one that would be great to be held frequently,” said one of the participants. This was the first seminar series of its kind for the Samoan community, and given its successful turn out and interaction with the public, there is hope for EducationUSA to continue to provide free educational resources and professional advice for Samoan’s to successfully gain entry to higher education in the U.S. Plans are underway for the next seminar series to take place in May-June of this year.