University Students Honor Maritime, extol Commissioner Kesselly

A group of university students, under the banner ''Private Universities Students Association'' (PUSA), has applauded the leadership of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) for providing them full-time scholarships.

The university students on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 held a formal program in honor of Commissioner Binyah Kesselly and his LiMA team. The well-attended program was held at the auditorium of the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) on Camp Johnson Road. The students commended the LiMA for promoting the education of young Liberians.

Commissioner Kesselly was gowned for his role in making students across the country directly benefit from Liberia's Maritime Program. LiMA started its scholarship program in 2009 and has since supported over 400 students and invested considerable capital to foster youth education in Liberia.

''In the past, we only heard about the maritime program on paper. We never directly benefitted from it as is the case today,'' said James A. Toby, a scholarship beneficiary. Student leaders Christopher Koroma of United Methodist University and Ms. Rose Blidi observed that the Maritime Scholarship Program will help to reduce the brain-drain in Liberia. ''This scholarship program is parallel to the national agenda which focuses on poverty reduction where education is a major pillar,'' noted Ms. Blidi. ''This crusade by the government to reduce poverty will not succeed if the young people of Liberia are not educated and prepared to produce,'' said Mr. Koroma. According to him, the LiMA scholarship has challenged students to study hard in order to meet the required grade point average (GPA) to remain on the scholarship. ''We are happy that Mr. Kesselly, a bright young Liberian, can think about the future of people he doesn’t even know, especially during this challenging economic environment of ours,” Koroma noted.

The keynote speaker of the program, Mr. Latim Da-thong, challenged Liberians to mobilize their efforts for the common good of the country. Mr. Da-thong, who is president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Starz Institute of Technology, admonished the students to effectively utilize the opportunity being afforded them by the LiMA to educate themselves for the future of the country. ''As a Liberian, a professional, and a business person, I can’t afford to see my country fall,'' noted Mr. Da-thong. He observed that only Liberians can solve Liberia's problem.

In a brief remark, PUSA acting president, Samuel Tukpa, said Commissioner Kesselly and the LiMA are well on track in achieving government's Vision 2030 objectives through education. ''You cannot rebuild this country if the people are not educated. The pivotal role being played by the LiMA, in ensuring that the young people are educated to steer the affairs of their country, is impressive,'' he said.

Apart from high school and university students, the Authority also offers scholarships to qualified Liberians to pursue undergraduate degrees in various fields in the maritime industry. These disciplines include Maritime Training and Education, Port and Shipping Administration, Marine Engineering, Marine Electronics and Engineering, and Nautical Science, amongst others. They are being offered at the Regional Maritime University in Ghana and other international Maritime institutions around the world.

Ms. Ellen Ferguson, Director of LiMA's Corporate Social Responsibility Department, said LiMA scholarship is available to all high school and university students who demonstrate academic excellence. A student must maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA at university level in order to benefit from the scholarship. A high school student must maintain an average of 90% or above in order to benefit from the scholarship. She, however, expressed regrets that of the 200 scholarships available to high school students, only 62 have been awarded.

The LiMA's head of CSR disclosed that the Institution is willing to help educate more Liberians, but pointed out that the LiMA will not renege on its GPA requirement. She also disclosed that the LiMA, in 2011, spent over US$40,000.00 to pay the West African Examination Council (WAEC) fees for 2,000 deserving students across the country.

The honoree, LiMA Commissioner Binyah Kesselly, for his part, said he was humbled by the appreciation shown by the student community. The Maritime boss insisted that the 3.5 GPA and the 90% average required by the LiMA from university and high school students, respectively, will not be compromised. ''It is a right to have education, but scholarship is a privilege. There is no free meal or free checks. If you don’t perform, we won't write your checks, he said.

The LiMA Commissioner reminded the students that the future was theirs to prepare for. ''The future rests in your hands. Don't be fooled by political rhetoric or some generational change thing. Seek education and you will see if you will need someone to tell you about generational change,'' the Commissioner added.

The Authority also provides scholarships to qualified Liberians to further their studies at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in the area of Maritime Law, and at the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) in Malta as well as other traditional maritime disciplines in other institutions of higher learning overseas. LiMA is responsible for administering Liberia's Maritime and Corporate Programs. The Liberian Registry is currently managed by the Government of Liberia's Agent, the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR, LLC), which maintains offices around the world.

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