The Cuttington University Alumni Association in the Americas (CUAAA) raised nearly $200,000 during its 30th reunion celebration in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States of America.
More than 300 alumni members and friends of Cuttington University attended the three-day celebration from August 18 to 21.
According to a dispatch from the event, CUAAA’s President Massa Morgan said the funds will be used to rebuild the Agape Clinic to serve Cuttington University campus in Suacoco, Bong County and the community around it, and strengthen the university’s solar energy capacity.
“Access to healthcare is a major challenge in Liberia and we saw the need to ensure that CU’s students and the people in the surrounding areas are healthy,’’ Madam Morgan said. “Electricity has always been a problem at Cuttington. Today, students have only four hours of electricity. That is unacceptable in the 21st century.’’
Morgan said CUAAA members are committed to giving back to their alma mater. “We have been blessed because of the education we received from Cuttington, so we are compelled to support the next generation-- the bedrock of the nation.’’ The major highlight of the event was the dinner and queen contest featuring Cuttington’s three social and athletic clubs — Nader, Mason, and Freeman. CUAAA raised $98,043.06 from the queen contest.
The Nader Social and Athletic Club won the queen contest, raising $52, 851, followed by Mason Social and Athletic Club — $39,440.06 and Freeman — $5,752. Nader’s Ernestine Jones retained the crown she won in 2021 during the reunion celebration which was held via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
CUAAA also received a major boost from Liberian native Richelieu Dennis, CEO of Essence Magazine and executive Chairman of Sundial Brands, the billion-dollar natural hair and skin care company.
Dennis donated $50,000 to the Agape Clinic project, spearheaded by Binyah Kesselly, a 1988 graduate of Cuttington. In addition to the $50,000, Dennis also promised an additional $25,000, if CUAA raised $25,000. The organization exceeded that goal, so it is poised to receive $75,000 from Mr. Dennis.
During the event, Dennis spoke about his journey from Liberia to the United States of America where he started selling shea butter cream, commonly known as “donut grease,’’ on the street corners of New York City. Dennis told the attendees about his passion for economic equality and supporting women. He said his primary support system has always been women, starting with his grandmother, mother, and his wife.
“Growing up in Liberia, we saw the tremendous disparities and the strife that comes with it,’’ he said. “My focus is about how you make money and invest in the communities where you come from.’’
Also, speaking at the dinner was Eugenia Roberts-Jelani, a 1977 graduate of Cuttington University and a motivational speaker. Mrs. Roberts-Jelani commended her fellow alumni for their passion and commitment to Cuttington.
“When you are passionate you can do anything,’’ she said. “I urge all of us to become more passionate about helping Cuttington. I discovered so much about myself and became the best version of myself because of Cuttington. The university needs our help.’’
CUAA’s president thanked her fellow alumni members and the friends who supported the reunion activities. In recent years, the organization has stepped up its fundraising efforts. CUAA’s funds have purchased computers, provided solar panels, maintenance equipment to spruce up the Suacoco campus, financed infrastructural improvements and provided relief packages for faculty and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are doing better each year because of our commitment to our alma mater,’’ Morgan said. “We are the fertile seed that was planted on behalf of our Motherland, Liberia. We are prepared, equipped and energized about advancing the goals and objectives of Cuttington University. We must remain vigilant to repair, rejuvenate, and replenish the garden from which we were cultivated.’’
The Cuttington University Association in the Americas is a non-profit organization dedicated to uniting, mobilizing and engaging alumni members to support the university. The organization’s annual reunion and other activities are designed to raise money to support CU.