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SJU Student Trains as Education Advocate

A St. John’s government and politics major, Jasmine Mbadugha ’16C, is working to enhance educational opportunities for underserved children around the globe. The Global Campaign for Education-United States Chapter has accepted Mbadugha to its 2014 Fall Youth Advocacy Training program—a biannual initiative that equips students and young professionals with information about equal access to education and prepares them to act upon what they’ve learned.

The training, held October 17–21 in Washington, DC, included seminars on how to help the nearly 127 million young people worldwide who are deprived of an education due to barriers such as poverty, child marriage, or gender-based violence.

“I applied to the program because I believe equal access to education is a basic human right,” said Mbadugha. “It’s a path to a better world, and I am determined to be an effective advocate because when we educate our youth, we are investing in the future.”

Representatives from USAID, UNICEF, and the Brookings Institution addressed the group of 23 youth advocates at the National Education Association headquarters, as did Mohamed Sidibay, a former child soldier from Sierra Leone. “Mohamed explained how an educational program rescued him at the age of 10,” Mbadugha said. “He was ultimately able to come to the United States and get a scholarship to George Washington University.”

Mbadugha was raised in Nigeria, where she became passionate about the issue of childhood education. As a teenager, she joined her classmates in helping to build a school for poor children. “In Nigeria, access to education is unequal and even dangerous,” she said, citing the April 2014 incident when more than 200 girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram, a terrorist group in northern Nigeria. “These girls were targeted solely because they were in school.”   

Upon completion of her training, Mbadugha returned to St. John’s with two goals: to raise awareness on campus about the kidnapped Nigerian girls and to promote World AIDS Day on December 1, 2014. She noted that AIDS prevents children from receiving an education in many parts of the world.  “If a parent has AIDS,” she explained, “the stigma is so great, kids won’t attend school.”

Her activities at SJU go beyond grassroots efforts to help those in need. Mbadugha is also a manager in GLOBE—Global Loan Opportunities for Budding Entrepreneurs—St. John’s global microloan program. “Jasmine provides the critical function of auditing our operations both internally and in the field, and assists our borrowers in the world’s most impoverished communities to achieve success with their enterprises,” said Linda Sama, Ph.D., Joseph F. Adams Professor of Management and dean of global initiatives. Sama stressed that Mbadugha is an excellent student with leadership skills that will serve her, and others, well in the future.

“The Vincentian mission is the best part of my education,” Mbadugha said, “because at St. John’s, we’re not just being trained to be smart and get good jobs, we’re taught to be change-makers.”