On August 25, 2017, the Chibok Girls Education Initiative at the American University of Nigeria (AUN) celebrated its third anniversary with an award ceremony. The occasion recognised outstanding achievements among the first group of 24 who arrived at AUN in 2014 and have been on automatic scholarship.
AUN President, Dr. Dawn Dekle and the Special Adviser to the Nigerian President on Social Protection Plan, Ms. Maryam Uwais, were among the special guests of honour.
Also called New Foundation School (NFS), the initiative started in 2014 to cater specially for the kidnapped Chibok girls who braved an escape from the captivity of Boko Haram. Eight of the initial intake have graduated from the NFS and are enrolled in AUN to pursue their university education. Among them are three in the University's pre-med programme, Natural and Environmental Sciences, and two in Accounting. The rest are studying Law, Computer Science and Journalism.
There were awards for the most punctual, best behaved, the most outgoing, and the best public speaking student. For athletics, there were awards for students in specific skills, as well as the overall best athletic participant. In the academics category, there was an award for the best student in every subject in both the intermediate and the advanced classes.
"I took special care looking at everything you have done, and I couldn't be more proud," said AUN President Dekle in her opening remarks. "You really do live out our virtues of excellence, integrity, and service."
The President said also that she would continue to work with the girls and to make the word "Chibok" become synonymous with positive virtues, with courage, integrity and knowledge. "This year, I want you to work with me and everyone in this room to make Chibok the latest word in the Oxford English Dictionary. Do you remember when I said we are going to make it something else besides a village? C-Character, H-Honesty, I-Intelligence, B-Bravery, O-Openness, and K-Kindness."
Uwais, on her part, noted that her invitation was an opportunity to really get to know how AUN is transforming the girls. "I am delighted to be here. Moreover, I am very inspired by what I have seen... .This is just an awesome experience for me... .This is really a worthwhile endeavour and I am very hopeful that this is just the beginning for all of you... .You have come this far and you are going to go much farther because you all have some steel in you."
Uwais said through the empowerment that they received at AUN the students would go on to do great things in life. She charged the young women to remain focused in their studies.
"Even though what happened to you should not have happened to anybody, I am a firm believer in 'everything-happens-for-a-purpose'... What has happened is that a vast opportunity has been created for you all here. I expect that you will take advantage of it and be true to yourself and your faith. And just reach out for the stars."