A November 29 trip to an ambassador’s reception in Washington, DC, morphed into official business for freshman Clarice Labor when the African Union appointed her as the student representative to an international exchange program.
A native of Sierra Leone, Labor traveled with five friends to DC at the invitation of her grandfather, who is Sierra Leone’s ambassador to the United States. The students were eager to attend a reception to recognize Deniece Laurent-Mantey, the first executive director of President Biden’s Diaspora Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the U.S.
During the event, Labor was told that she was going to be named as the student representative to the African Union’s student exchange program between Jamaica and Sierra Leone – and that she was expected to address the crowd. Labor overcame her shock, turned to her friends for help, and quickly created brief remarks on the spot.
“I was so nervous,” she confessed. Despite the stress of impromptu public speaking, she looks back positively on the experience. “It was a very good time, and connections were being made, which was wonderful.”
She is grateful to “Dr. Sarah (Williamson, dean of students) and Dr. Victor (Betancourt, associate provost for global engagement) for making it possible for us to explore and meet such inspiring people.”
A 21-year-old nursing major, Labor spent the day with five American friends, most of whom have international family connections to West Africa: Celestine Adjaglo (political science/pre-law),
Oluwatimilehin Mumuni (cybersecurity), Lovette Jessey (nursing), Quron White (psychology), and
Sydnilah Laje Nahim (business).
Labor chose Neumann, she says, because of its excellent nursing program. She hopes to earn an MS in Public Health, work in America, and eventually return home to help her country.
The African Union is a continental body consisting of the 55 member states that make up the countries of the African continent. It was officially launched in 2002 to promote Africa’s growth and economic development by championing citizen inclusion and increased cooperation and integration of African states.