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ASLOT Awards of Academic Accomplishment

15 June 2016 at 02:07 | 1545 views

By Sanpha Sesay, Dallas, Texas, USA.

It was a new day in the Dallas Fort Worth metropolitan area of Texas. For the first time in the community Sierra Leonean High School graduates, college under and post graduates who have achieved academic excellence at their schools and universities were recognized and honored by the Sierra Leonean community. The recognition awards were also extended to Sierra Leonean professionals who have excelled in their professions.

The program was organized by the Association of Sierra Leonean Organizations in Texas (ASLOT) in collaboration with the University of Texas in Arlington (UTA) Africa Program. Attendees consider it as a new model of excellence award program established by ASLOT.

People from all walks of life attended the program. Dr. Fatima Gibson, an American born citizen whose parents are of Sierra Leonean descent was the keynote speaker, while Dr. Alusine Jalloh, the Director of Africa program in the university was the Master of Ceremonies. Certificates of recognition, pins and small tokens were given to the graduates and young professionals to honor their achievements.

To honor the recipients, ASLOT brought in speakers from the University of Texas in Arlington, Dr. Eric Bolsterli, Assistant Dean in the College of Liberal Arts at UTA and Ms. Emily Milan, Assistant Director of the University advising center at UTA, to speak about the value of education, the awardees’ future exploration, and the process of setting goals for success. Their topic of discussion was Exploration-Career and Success.

In her PowerPoint presentation, Ms. Emily Milan, the Assistant Director of UTA informed graduates that the world is open to them to move forward with their journey and live their dream and that everything is possible in life. She chose exploration of the planet Mars, to exemplify her presentation. Despite the challenges, scientists still continue with this mission. The Mars rover was repurposed after it landed on Mars due to initial difficulties. As it was indicated on the presentation, scientists were still able to gather data on Mars successfully because of their earnest desire to achieve their goal. Life will throw you curve balls but you can always recalibrate and continue to work towards your dream.

Ms. Milan admonished graduates to be enthusiastic in pursuit of their goals and be proud of whatever they are doing.

"It is your responsibility to engage with your professors for your college progress and managers in your place of employment," she advised the awardees.

She said curiosity will lead them to discovery and innovation, but they can only accomplish their goals by staying focused on what they are doing.

Dr. Eric Bolsterli, Assistant Dean in the College of Liberal Arts at UTA centered his motivational address on how graduates should understand their long journey, stressing that this is just the beginning of their continuous expedition which will also lead them through a continuous learning process.

He informed them to always remember where they are coming from and what interests them. It is wise for students to think about how they can apply themselves in choosing a career path and look forward to what it is that interests them when setting goals, if they want to achieve them, he said.

Dr. Bolsterli advised professionals to be steadfast and never stop learning as every human being is created to continue learning throughout life.

"To all of you graduates, do your homework, do not limit yourselves in searching for careers and be a good minded person to think broadly," Dr. Eric Bolsterli concluded.

The guest speaker, Dr. Fatima Gibson brought in her brother, Dr. Kamara to reinforce the topic about how to persevere, work hard and not lose focus on your goals. Dr. Gibson and her brother both spoke about the value of passionate interest in life and the different directions people take in order to achieve their goals. Both of them told the audience their life story as an example.

Dr. Kamara informed the audience that his grade in school and the first two years of college were not that great. He was very good at extra-curricular activities (basketball and football) in high school. His parents wanted him to be a doctor. What changed was when he attended a summer program at the Baylor University of Dentistry. He realized that if he wanted to become a dentist then he had to do better. He came back from the program determined to improve his GPA. He took lots of credit hours and ended up with very good grades and vastly improving his GPA. Today he has a dental practice, dental assistant school and tech Startup Company.

Dr. Gibson stated that it is not uncommon for every student to exhibit fear and sometimes never knowing which way to go. Referencing her career, Dr. Gibson never thought of becoming a dentist after her initial college education majoring in psychology. She said, she was bewildered in the beginning trying to find which way to go. "

My path was rigorous, she said, but still focused since I believe life has to be balanced in one way or the other. "

Dr. Gibson explained to graduates that her career journey was a long onestudying effectively and doing extra curricular activities and playing basketball at the same time was really a challenging task. She said that students can change the direction of their journey at any time and make adjustments to reach their destination with clear ambition. She advised students to be firm in their purpose and try to avoid their dreams being crushed down the road.

"My accomplishment was due to dedication and being focus driven."

Earlier, the Honorable Consul General of Sierra Leone in Texas, Mr. Patrick Jackson gave a brief historical background of the Association of Sierra Leonean Organizations in Texas (ASLOT).

The organization was established in 2010 and became active in 2011 in the advent of Sierra Leone’s 50th Independence anniversary when the entire community came together to celebrate. The purpose of forming ASLOT was to better improve and foster relationships between the different organizations and to make improvements in the lives of the Sierra Leone community.

Honorable Jackson said ASLOT is a non-profit organization that does not have to do with any political agenda. He said the organization works in collaboration with other non-profit organizations and has forged a partnership with Restore Hope during the Ebola epidemic that continues to this day.

Ms. Margaret Coker one of the High School graduate read a poem to fellow graduates on perseverance. Ms. Winifred Clarke-Osumbor, Ms. Florence Coker-Campbell, and Ms. Zainabu Koroma presented the certificates and the pins to the graduates.

Dr. Alie Patrick Koroma and Dr. Thomas Sawyer presented plaques of appreciation to the speakers and to Dr. Alusine Jalloh for his dedication to Sierra Leonean causes and his assistance to the Sierra Leonean community here in the diaspora and in Sierra Leone especially in the area of Education.

In his vote of thanks, Dr. Alie Patrick Koroma thanks all the speakers for their excellent presentations and the Africa Program for hosting the community. He also informed the graduates to use the opportunity to network with other graduates and members of the community. He reiterated that education is a very profitable investment in life and that graduates should return home and reflect on the various speakers’ speeches.

This program of recognition of Sierra Leonean graduates in the United States will be an annual event for the Sierra Leone community in the Dallas Forth-Worth area in Texas, Dr. Koroma reaffirmed. Victoria Porter, the granddaughter of Honorable Mr. Patrick Jackson led in the singing of both the national anthems of the United Sates and Sierra Leone.