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VSU joins HBCU/Brazil scholarship program

Published date: September 19, 2013

Virginia State University (VSU) is one of 15 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) included in a new scholarship program that supports Brazilian students who wish to attend American HBCUs. Dr. Meldon Hollis, Associate Director for the White House Initiative on HBCUs, and representatives of the Brazil-HBCU Alliance, were on hand in Brasilia for the announcement, culminating a two-week visit to Brazil by HBCU representatives.   Dr. Maxine Sample, Director of International Education at VSU, was among the group of international education program directors and administrators who participated.

Along with the scholarship partnership, the visit introduced HBCUs to Brazilian institutions and community groups and promoted increased partnerships between Brazilian and HBCU-Brazil Alliance member institutions.  The visit was coordinated by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, in conjunction with the White House Initiative on HBCUs and the American Consulates in São Paulo and Brasilia.  Meetings with educators, administrators, government officials, students, and community leaders focused on providing greater access of Afro-Brazilians to educational opportunities and maximizing the participation of Brazilian and HBCU students and faculty in exchanges, joint research and other collaborations.

“Many of the Brazilian educators appeared to connect with the historic mission of HBCUs and our institutions’ journey to become the diverse group of fine academic and research centers that they are today,” said Dr. Sample.  “We all acknowledge the importance of education in narrowing the economic divide and empowering communities.” Several Brazilian institutions have already taken steps to establish agreements with HBCUs for the exchange of students and faculty.

To enhance Brazilian students’ education and training in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and promote scientific research and investment within and outside of Brazil, the Brazilian government established the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program in 2011. This program provides scholarships for 100,000 Brazilian students to study abroad for one year in more than 12 countries. The program has already awarded over 15,000 scholarships.  To date, 6,317 Brazilian students have been placed at 348 U.S. host institutions.  Four students began studying at VSU this fall.

The HBCU-Brazil Alliance is part of a commitment to cooperation under the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality (Joint Action Plan) signed in March 2008 and affirmed by President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.  This unique agreement leverages the interagency policy expertise in both countries to address racial health disparities, environmental justice, access to education, equal access to economic opportunities and equal access to the justice system.  Under the Joint Action Plan, both nations have pledged to collaborate to eliminate racial and ethnic discrimination. 

For more information about the educational partnership between the United States and Brazil, visit http://www.state.gov/p/wha/rls/fs/2012/187610.htm.

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