MACON – Mercer University has named two students from Ricks Institute in Liberia as Sam Oni Scholars. The students are both 2014 graduates of Ricks and receive full scholarships, including tuition, room and board costs, to attend Mercer.
This year's Sam Oni Scholars are Emmanuella Barway and Abel Zeegar. Barway has spent the past year studying at Stella Maris Polytechnic in Monrovia, while Zeegar spent the past year studying chemistry at Cuttington University in Suacoco.
Each academic year since 2009, Mercer has granted at least two full scholarships to Ricks Institute graduates.
The scholarship program is named in honor of Sam Oni, a native of Ghana who in 1963 was the first black student admitted to Mercer. After earning his bachelor's degree in sociology from the University, Oni went on to earn a master's degree in journalism from the University of California-Berkley. He later returned to Africa to begin Project Ploughshare, a non-government organization focused on rural development in Nigeria.
Sam Oni Scholars are required to return to Liberia upon graduation from Mercer for two years of service to their home country.
The scholarships were presented on Aug. 10 by Dr. Richard F. Wilson, Columbus Roberts Professor of Theology, chair of the Columbus Roberts Department of Christianity in Mercer's College of Liberal Arts and president of the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary in Paynesville City.
Also participating in the awards ceremony was the Rev. Dr. Olu Q. Menjay, a 1995 Mercer graduate, an instructor in the Roberts Department of Christianity, president of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention and the principal at Ricks Institute for the past 10 years.
Ricks Institute, located in the town of Virginia, has been educating K-12 boys and girls in Liberia for more than 124 years.