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An opportunity to be equipped with more leadership skills as they take on more challenges in their respective professions – that is what the two Seychellois candidates chosen for the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellowship are aiming to achieve as they head to the US next month.
Dr Naomi Adeline (third from left) and Rodney Quatre (third from right) with their families at Augerine Restaurant in Beau Vallon, Seychelles, where their selection was announced by U.S. Ambassador Shari Villarosa on April 29. (US Embassy/Facebook) Photo License: CC-BY
Twenty-eight year old physician, Naomie Adeline and thirty-five year old Rodney Quatre who is in charge of the Seychelles National Parks Authority's research section will be among the 500 young professionals from the African continent to embark on the six weeks study programme at top American universities, as of June 19.
This was announced on 29 April by the US Ambassador to Seychelles Shari Villarosa, in a short ceremony at the Augerine Restaurant in Beau Vallon district in the northern region of the archipelago’s main island of Mahé.
Both Seychellois candidates have been selected under the Public Management category. Adeline will be travelling to Washington DC’s Howard University for her fellowship while Quatre will be going to Florida International University for his training.
An added boost to leadership skills
Adeline joined the Seychelles Ministry of Health as a Doctor in April 2012 following her studies and apart from her work as a general practitioner at community health centres she is also actively involved in several projects mainly to improve health education in Seychelles.
One example is a dedicated Facebook page called Health Education Seychelles where she posts tips about various health related issues where people can also inbox their questions and concerns.
For the young doctor, the opportunity to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship will provide an added boost to her leadership skills to pursue her ongoing projects as well as new ones she is planning to undertake in the future.
“I have a lot of future projects in mind, but a lot of them will involve other people, so the fellowship will provide me with leadership skills on how to lead a group project and to deal with issues that may arise for example if someone in the group is not doing what he/she is supposed to do,” Adeline told SNA.
Quatre whose work mainly deals with marine conservation, thought of participating in the fellowship programme since last year but at that time he was studying for his Master’s Degree in Environmental Policy from the Australian National University.
He told SNA that he is fortunate to have been successful in his application this year considering he is already 35, which is the age limit to be able to join the programme.
“Actually in my line of work I give my input on various new projects and new policy being worked…I think the fellowship will provide an opportunity for me to be equipped with more skills in terms of leadership enabling me to better deliver in my line of work and to contribute towards marine conservation in Seychelles,”
On top of the six weeks fellowship which will include visits to various institutions, training as well as an opportunity to meet with the US President Barrack Obama during a three-day presidential summit, both Seychellois candidates will stay on into the US for another six weeks as their fellowship includes an additional internship.
Almost 30,000 applicants from youths in Africa
In 2014 for the first fellowship, a total of 70 Seychellois applied, forming part of a massive group of 50,000 applicants from the continent. In an emailed response to SNA regarding the number of applications received this year, the US Embassy's Public Affairs office in Mauritius said a total of 28,885 completed applications from across Africa were submitted online from October 7 to November 12, 2014.
"Although we cannot share the total number of applications received from Seychelles, we can confirm that half of all applicants from Seychelles made it through to the interview stage. Finalists were interviewed in person in Seychelles by an American Officer from the U.S. Embassy and a representative from Washington DC," read the statement.
"The final selection was made based on a proven record of leadership, a commitment to the community, the ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups, knowledge, interest, and professional experience in the applicant’s selected track, ability to communicate in written English and commitment to return to Africa to apply leadership skills."
Obama initiated fellowship aimed at empowering young African leaders
It was in 2013, during a trip to South Africa that the US President Barrack Obama announced the first Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders under the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) which he launched in 2010.
The aim of the programme is to empower young African leaders further so that they can return home inspired to succeed and make a difference in their home countries.
500 young people from the African continent between the ages of 25 and 35 including three Seychellois nationals, Sheryl Vengadasamy, elected member of the Seychelles National Assembly for the ruling party 'Parti Lepep', Fatoumata Sylla, the director general for Youth Affairs in the President’s Office – both of whom were selected under the Public Management category – and a young pilot Christopher Lespoir, who forms part of the Young Innovators category went through this first learning experience last year. Unfortunately, a fourth Seychellois candidate who was selected in the Business Entrepreneurship category, had to withdraw from the fellowship due to unforeseen circumstances.
It was during the highlight of their programme in the US, a Presidential Summit in Washington, D.C. that Obama announced the renaming the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), as the ‘Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders’ in honour of the late Nelson Mandela, who passed away in December 2013.
The US president also announced that he would expand his Washington fellowship to include 1,000 young leaders on the programme each year by 2016.
The growing number of Seychellois graduating from the Young Leader’s Programme are boosting the quality of the country’s human resources.
President James Michel said this on Thursday as 29 young leaders who have followed the SYLP graduated in a colourful ceremony at the International Conference Centre.
He said he was pleased to note that, already, graduates from the programme are assuming leadership roles in the public, private and political arenas.
“In the overall context of the country’s ongoing and future development, this cadre of future leaders, who have acquired new knowledge, skills and leadership training experiences, represent a significant addition of quality human resources to vital areas of our public and private sectors,” said Mr Michel.
“The progress already made by so many of these young leaders since their formal graduation from the programme is indeed gratifying, and a solid endorsement of the programme’s value.
“It augurs well for the ongoing and future development of the social, economic and cultural development of the country. It also testifies to the opportunities available to the youth of Seychelles and a constant reminder to them to make good use of the resources that we put at their disposal,” he said.
They were awarded masters degrees in Leadership and Strategy (MA) as Mr Michel – who is the chancellor of the University of Seychelles(UniSey) and initiator of the programme – presented them with SYLP awards
The SYLP is run under the combined auspices of the University of Seychelles and the Institute of Public Administration (IPA), a college of the National University of Ireland.
Among others who took part in the ceremony were UniSey pro-vice-chancellor Lucy Athanasius and Dr John Nolan who presented the graduates with the MA degrees. On behalf of the IPA Dr Nolan said the six IPA lecturers who were involved in the MA degree programme were impressed by the standards achieved by outgoing – second – cohort of SYLP students, and was particularly pleased that three of them got an overall award of 1st class honours.
The MA Degree in Leadership and Strategy is positioned at Level 9, the penultimate level before doctoral level at 10, in the framework of the national qualifications authority of Ireland.
“As holders of this MA degree the graduates will have access at later stages in their careers to doctoral and post-doctoral studies at the most reputable universities throughout the world,” he said.
“What the programme signifies to me is that the achievement of a worthwhile objective – one that will add a new dimension to the young leader’s area of professional responsibility, that will make a significant contribution to the better welfare of others – requires self-sacrifice, a strong commitment to sustained hard work, often above and beyond the call of duty, and seeing challenging tasks through to completion, to the best of one’s ability.”
Ms Athanasius commended President Michel for his vision and commitment togive the young people of Seychelles opportunities to develop their leadership potential.
“Together with the first and third SYLP cohorts, you the graduands of the second cycle are the realisation of President Michel’s vision to develop a reserve of future leaders prepared with the necessary tools to lead our country forward.,” she said.
She said the graduates’ parents, spouses, family and friends have every reason to be proud because the graduates emerged from the ceremony as future Young Leaders. She noted their graduation marked their successful completion of the local leadership training programme of Unisey which included lectures in leadership training, key aspects of the Seychelles culture, economy and legislation, as well as district and overseas attachment experiences.
In her vote of thanks, graduate Doreen Hotive expressed the graduates’ “deepest appreciation to Mr Michel who founded the programme.
“Mr President, you had a bold vision for us young, but motivated, Seychellois. You had confidence in us. You believed in us, and saw our potential to become the future leaders of our country,” she said.
“We are proud that we have followed through and successfully achieved the leadership potential you envisioned for us,” she said, appreciating what the government has done.
She also thanked the IPA for turning Mr Michel’s vision into reality, Dr Nolan, for the personalised attention he and his IPA colleagues gave them as well as family members for their understanding, encouragement, love and support. Among the graduates were members of the National Assembly, principal secretaries, directors and other young leaders.
President Michel has had ‘very fruitful and engaging’ discussions with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard during his state visit to Australia.
The President was in Canberra after his first stop in Melbourne, and was due in Townsville in Queensland on the next leg of his visit.
If you are an African who ranks health, education and freedom from poverty as your top priority, you are best off in Seychelles, a study published on Monday shows.
This is among a host of findings revealed in the 2009 Ibrahim Index of Governance, which was launched at the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town on Monday. It shows you are worst off in the Central African Republic.
Students who graduate from the University of Seychelles will get two degrees, one from the islands and another from the University of London.
Information given to students who attended a familiarisation session at the International Conference Centre on Saturday says the Vice Chancellor of the University of London Sir Graeme Davies has agreed to join the Board of the University of Seychelles.