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Mandela Fellows Arrive

24 young leaders from Africa ready to learn at BSU
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Sarah Adole isn’t content to simply work for the prison system in Nigeria. She wants to be a nationwide reformer and thinks a fellowship at Bridgewater State University is critical to accomplishing that goal. 

Adole, who is participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, saw the difference past fellows made and is eager to do the same.

“Their work can be felt all over the nation,” said Adole, who is starting a nonprofit to reduce prison overcrowding. “I want to be that kind of person.”

She is among 24 fellows from sub-Saharan Africa who are in Bridgewater for a six-week leadership in public management institute. This is the fourth consecutive year BSU has been chosen as an institute partner in this flagship program of the U.S. government’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).


The fellowship helps participants grow as leaders through academic study, mentoring, networking, service and other activities. They build strong ties with U.S. citizens. After returning to their home countries, fellows participate in alumni programming to continue building skills and networks.

This year’s group will learn from BSU faculty and staff, local municipal officials and other distinguished guests. The fellows will leave campus to visit Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate, and other government, nonprofit and cultural organizations. They will conduct community service and enjoy relaxing at a Cape Cod beach house and marching in Bridgewater’s Independence Day parade. 

Nigerian Gloria Mabeiam Ballason knows firsthand how the fellowship benefits her home country. Ballason was a fellow at Bridgewater in 2016 and is back to welcome this year’s cohort.

She praised her interactions with Africans and people at BSU. Those experiences helped her build relationships in Nigeria as she fights for human rights. Ballason is principal partner at MIVE Legals, executive director of MollumaYakubu Loma Centre for Medical Law, and CEO of law conglomerate House of Justice, among other accomplishments.

She encourages 2019 fellows to be inquisitive and get to know each other and their American hosts since the best lessons can happen outside of formal programming. She also hopes they develop as strong leaders.

“If things are going to get better, we must be able to confront certain issues,” she said. “I hope they can learn who they are and be able to challenge whatever needs to be challenged in their country.”

Adole, who researched fellowship locations, is pleased to be at BSU and ready to make her mark.

“We’re all excited about meeting people within our line of work and learning new things,” she said. “I know I’m in the right place.” 

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX. Bridgewater State University is a sub-grantee of IREX and is implementing a U.S.-based Leadership Institute as a part of the Fellowship. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, please visit

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