Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Imoleayo S. Abel is an international student from Nigeria who has been introduced to the Swarthmore community through the US Student Achievers Program (USAP), which allows international students to study abroad in the United States. The Gazette sat down with Abel to ask him about his unique experience as a Nigerian international student, his past, and his future.
DG: Where are you from?
IA: I’m from Nigeria, I was born in Lagos, I was born and grew up in Lagos, my family lives in Lagos.
DG: Do you have a decided major here?
IA: I’m pretty sure I’m going to be an engineering major. What I’m trying to decide now is what I’m going to do a double major in, maybe Computer Science.
DG: Do you personally enjoy engineering very much?
IA: Yes, I enjoy it. I’m very sure, and I don’t think it’s going to ever change.
DG: So I’ve heard that you are here on a special program? Could you elaborate on that?
IA: Let me tell you the whole story. I was a regular Nigerian boy, finished from high school, I took university admission examines in Nigeria. Suddenly a call came from the US embassy, there’s a program called the USAP (US Student Achievers Program), it’s in some 14 countries. What they do is, in these 14 countries, the US identifies 20 very good high school graduates in these countries. They invite the students to the embassy, talk to them about schools in the US, pay for our testing fees, application fee and airplane tickets and even give us a stipend. Our part of the game was just to write good essays and apply.
DG: Why did you decide to apply to Swarthmore?
IA: I got into the program and the first meeting we had with the adviser; she asked us questions about our interests and strengths. I spoke with her and told her I loved math and physics and such. The next thing she said was that I should apply to Swarthmore College. I applied ED to Swarthmore and got in! I didn’t know of Swarthmore College before this.
DG: Have you been enjoying your time here?
IA: So far so good, definitely. Coming from Nigeria, the difference is clear, everything here is good for me here. I’m very comfortable; I like it very much. The people are very very friendly.
DG: What are some plans for the rest of your Swarthmore career?
IA: I’m doing IM soccer and maybe going to do a radio show, possibly a Nigerian hip-hop show since I have a lot of Nigerian music. I also definitely want to go to graduate school, maybe get a graduate degree in robotics. In the long run I’d like to teach after practicing as an engineer. As I get older I’d like to be professor and maybe a motivational speaker.
DG: Do you know of anyone else who is also studying in the US through the same program you are? If so, do you still keep in touch with them?
IA: Yes, 5 of us came to the US this year. I was actually just chatting with one of my friends earlier. We do have a USAP reunion every year, with students from those 14 countries.
Correction: this article originally gave the wrong full name for the USAP program.