Remarks: EducationUSA College Fair Reception

Remarks by Charge d’Affaires Stephanie Bowers

October 19, 2018

Good evening and welcome to Liberty Overlook.  I am excited to host my first EducationUSA college fair reception, because all of us here tonight understand the importance of education, and the difference it makes in the lives of young people.

Just last night I attended the first graduation ceremony for the LJM Maritime Academy here in Nassau.  It was a tremendously emotional event – with both the graduates and their parents beaming with pride.  What was on full display was the reality that education opens doors that might otherwise remain closed. And that education can create opportunities where before there were none.

For this reason, I am thrilled to see here tonight a diverse representation of educational institutions from across the United States.  It’s the diversity of the U.S. education system that makes it the best in the world.  Students can study at a small or large college; they can complete a two-year degree; or a bachelors, Masters, PhD, and even post-doctoral.  The United States offers opportunities in large cities and small towns, and everything in between.

I am equally happy to see here tonight our Bahamian counterparts here from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the University of The Bahamas, the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute, as well as from the numerous high schools across The Bahamas.  We know the value you place on educational opportunities for Bahamian students, and we hope tonight’s event provides a platform for you to network to expand those opportunities.

In the lead up to the College Fair tomorrow, you probably heard us use the term EducationUSA quite a bit.  For those of you unfamiliar with EducationUSA, it is a U.S. Department of State network of over 425 international student-advising centers in more than 175 countries.  The network promotes U.S. higher education to students around the world by offering accurate, comprehensive, and current information about opportunities to study at accredited postsecondary institutions in the United States.

In fact, prospective students can choose from more than 4,700 accredited colleges and universities in the United States.  Over the years, the number of Bahamian students studying at these U.S. institutions has grown.  According to the Open Doors report, the number of Bahamians attending U.S. institutions during the 2016-2017 school year increased 11% over the prior year.

Our records also indicate that Bahamian students pursued higher education in 48 of the 50 U.S. states.  The Embassy takes pride in our role in facilitating such study in the United States as education is one of the top priorities in our bilateral   relationship.

For that reason, we are excited to see the relationships the Ministry of Education is building with U.S. institutions.  Just one week ago today, the Ministry of Education signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with Georgia State University.  This is only one of many collaborative, ongoing efforts in The Bahamas.

For example, the University of The Bahamas has partnerships with SUNY Oswego, and is developing MOUs with Kent State, University of South Florida, and Fairleigh Dickinson University.  And those are just the institutions represented here tonight.

We are also pleased with the numerous partnerships developed between higher education institutions and the Ministry of Education and Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute.

Now, on a more personal level, I need to mention that some of our very own Embassy employees have taken advantage of your programs, like Lynn University’s online degree program, just to name one.

For those of you here tonight from The Bahamas, we ask that you encourage your students to take full advantage of the opportunities and information the College Fair offers to the public at no cost.  In the meantime, enjoy the reception tonight, and I look forward to seeing all of you tomorrow at the fair as well.

Thank you.