Education: The Foundation for Building a Better Future By U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Stephanie L. Bowers

The past few weeks have been extraordinarily challenging for so many Bahamians.  On September 1, Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the northern Bahamas as a Category 5 storm—the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the country—destroying homes, livelihoods, and infrastructure.  But in the face of disaster, you—the people of The Bahamas—have inspired us with your resilience and resolve.  Like so many students around the world, I know that at this time of year many Bahamian students are thinking of the future.  And for many years now, thousands of Bahamian students have chosen the United States to further their academic careers.  Cabinet members, business leaders, Olympians, and even Prime Ministers stand among the ranks of the thousands of alumni of U.S. institutions of higher learning who hail from The Bahamas.

This October 26-27, I am again proud to invite every student in The Bahamas to the Fifth Annual EducationUSA College Fair in Nassau, held at the Melia Nassau Beach Resort.  You can sign up for the fair at: https://edusafairbah2019.eventbrite.com

In 2018 alone, over a quarter of a million new international students started studies in the United States.  There are as many reasons for choosing an American university as there are students, but having spoken to quite a few Bahamians who have picked an American institution of higher learning, I have noticed a few trends. 

The Power of Choice

With over 4,700 accredited institutions in all 50 U.S. states, there is an American college or university that is right for everyone.  Whether you are looking for a highly specialized program in a specific field, a flexible curriculum that will let you choose your own path, or something in between, you are bound to find a program that suits your needs.

There are also a variety of options for different financial situations.  Many American institutions offer a uniquely affordable option: the increasingly popular “2 plus 2” model.  “2 plus 2” means combining two years of study at a more affordable community college, with a final two years at a four year institution.  In the end, you will earn the same bachelor’s degree as someone who completed all four years at the four-year institution, at a significantly reduced cost. 

The Value of Opportunity

It is no secret that the United States and The Bahamas are extremely close.  Many Bahamians who choose an American college or university know that, especially in the field of business and tourism, many of their future customers, business partners, investors, and clients will be American.  They understand that there is no better place to start developing those relationships and connections than at an institution of higher learning in the United States.

There are also unparalleled opportunities for research, teaching, and training in the United States. Few other countries offer as many options for students, especially at the graduate level, to become involved in innovative, ground-breaking research.  Students at U.S. institutions of higher learning also have unique opportunities to mentor others, work closely with faculty, and develop a network of academic and professional connections that extend far beyond the classroom. 

The Importance of Diversity

As international students, you will strengthen the ties that bind the United States and The Bahamas.  Over the past month, we have seen the true meaning of partnership, as we have worked hand-in-hand with the Bahamian government and people in response to Hurricane Dorian.  That kind of partnership and friendship starts in the classroom, where American institutions value inclusion, and actively support students from diverse backgrounds.

Many U.S. universities have sent messages to welcome students around the world through the #YouAreWelcomeHere Campaign (https://www.youarewelcomehereusa.org).  

Student Visas

I am confident many of you are already interested in studying in the United States for these and many other reasons.  I know your interest also comes with many questions, including questions about how to apply for a student visa.  Our consular colleagues will be at the College Fair to provide answers to your questions both individually and during breakout sessions for prospective students.  In the meantime, you can also find information about the visa process at https://bs.usembassy.gov/, and by following us on Facebook @USEmbassyNassau

As the Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in The Bahamas, I am honored to invite you to attend our College Fair at the end of October, and will be proud to welcome you as an international student to the United States.