“If you do well, I will praise you. On the contrary, I will cut you down like a palm tree.” This warning resounded throughout the Ricks Institute chapel last Friday when the school campus-based “Dragon News Network” announced that two female students had won foreign scholarships.
Shortly after the newscast, the students repeated the slogan, while at the same time, reciting the motto of the school, “Not for self, but for others,” as they gave their two colleagues a standing ovation during a farewell ceremony for them.
Jennifer Brewer, 14, and Massa Fazzi, 13, both 8th graders of Ricks Institute in Virginia, won the foreign scholarships valued at US$37,000 each to study at the Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, USA.
They are scheduled to depart early September, and will be away for a year at the Oak Hill Academy. After completing a year of study there, they will return to continue their studies at Ricks. For the duration of their stay, they will receive a weekly stipend (amount not disclosed), and parental support, the Ricks administration disclosed.
Oak Hill Academy is a Baptist-affiliated boarding school that provides college preparatory education for young women and men from grades 8-12th.
The school maintains small class sizes and provides a closely-knit community ideal for domestic and international students alike.
Jennifer, who hails from Nimba County, lives on Hotel Africa Road, while Massa is from Gawular District, Grand Cape Mount County. Both are boarding students. They were qualified for the scholarship based on strong recommendations from the faculty and staff as well as references from their peers in the dormitories and classes. The two students were selected among six other candidates because they consistently distinguished themselves academically and morally at Ricks.
During a fare-well ceremony over the weekend, Ricks Principal and Chief Administrator, Rev. Dr. Olu Menjay, said the study program offers both Oak Hill Academy and Ricks Institute opportunities for broader exposure and cross cultural learning experiences for students.
According to him, since 2008, Oak Hill Academy, through its president, Dr. Michael Grooves, has offered a full scholarship to one student from Ricks every year.
Ricks, Dr. Menjay said, could not benefit from the scholarship offered last academic year due to the deadly Ebola virus (EVD) epidemic which caused all schools in the country to shut down.
“The resumption of the Oak Hill Academy scholarship is a major boost for students of Ricks.”
For that, Dr. Menjay expressed gratitude to Dr. Grooves for his partnership with Ricks which offers the means to enrich the lives of the students while encouraging the entire Ricks community to invest in quality education.”
Dr. Menjay described the scholarship program as a life changing opportunity for Ricks’ students. Dr. Grooves offered the scholarships when Menjay and his wife, Ottolee visited Oak Hill Academy in late October 2007.
Dr. Grooves has meanwhile offered one study abroad scholarship to Oak Hill Academy every year.
The study aboard program is in partnership with the Young’s Chapel Baptist Church at Oak Hill Academy, which provides weekly stipend and parental support to each student during their stay.
Friday’s farewell ceremony brought together parents of both Jennifer and Massa. They included Ms. Hawa Brewer, Jennifer’s mother, and grandmother, Madam Fatu Kiazulu. Massa’s father, Ahmeh Fazzie, was also present.
In their separate remarks, the two students and their parents expressed gratitude to the Ricks’ family and those who provided the scholarships for the students.
Earlier in exclusive interviews with the Daily Observer, Jennifer and Massa said they were grateful to the faculty and staff as well as their schoolmates for encouraging them to stay the course as they are away from Ricks. They promised to represent Ricks Institute academically and in their conduct while studying at Oak Hill.