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August 19, 2003

World Deaf Leadership Program to Provide Gallaudet Scholarships

From: Gallaudet - Aug 19, 2003

August 19, 2003

For Immediate Release

Contact: Mike Kaika, Director of Media Relations

Phone: 202-651-5050


World Deaf Leadership Program to Provide Gallaudet Scholarships

Washington, DC--The World Deaf Leadership Program, established in 1997 through a generous $3 million gift from the Nippon Foundation of Tokyo, Japan, has been restructured in support of scholarships for Gallaudet students from developing countries. The change was made with the approval of the foundation and the University.

The World Deaf Leadership Scholars Fund, as it is now called, will provide deaf and hard of hearing students from developing nations—known as WDL Scholars—with financial assistance at Gallaudet University for full tuition, room, board, and, if applicable, the cost of participating in up to two internships related to achieving a degree or a certificate from the University. Also, each WDL Scholar will have a mentor--a member of the Gallaudet community who will serve as important support for the scholar. Preference will be given to students who have already worked within the deaf community in their own country. Scholars will also be required to indicate a commitment toward returning home upon graduation and working toward the betterment of their community.

Currently, guidelines for this new scholarship program are being developed in hopes of announcing the first WDL Scholar during the fall semester This scholarship program will reside in the newly named Office for International Programs and Services under the direction of the provost (and associate dean of the Center for Academic Programs and Services).

In 1996, the WDL program was established to prepare a core group of deaf leaders in developing countries to lead their communities in improving their standards of living and their contributions to society. The program made significant inroads in the deaf communities of South Africa and Thailand, but the Nippon Foundation and Gallaudet felt that potential deaf leaders could be better served by bringing them to Kendall Green, making the University's programs, mentors, internship opportunities, and other areas of expertise directly available to them.

"Although we saw important results in the WDL program in South Africa and Thailand, Gallaudet wanted to focus more attention on providing opportunities for our current and future students," said Provost Jane Fernandes. "The idea of providing students in other countries a Gallaudet education and experience permitted us to contribute directly to the lives of deaf people around the globe."

There is another benefit to restructuring the fund, according to Executive Director of Institutional Advancement Cathy Sweet-Windham. "Through this program and our WDL Scholars, Gallaudet is able to build stronger bridges with other countries through the work of our alumni." She used as an example the strong relationship Gallaudet has cultivated with Nigeria, thanks to the efforts of the late Andrew Foster, Gallaudet's first black, deaf graduate ('54), to bring schools for the deaf to that county. "So it's a win-win situation because of these ongoing relationships."

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