Fulbright Has Lasting Effect on NSU Professor
In 2012, Dr. William K. A. Agyei was a recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Scholar award for the 2012-13 academic year, a distinction that he described as the pinnacle of his career. Beginning in August 2012, he spent roughly a year at the University of Botswana (UB) in Gaborone.
The most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange in the world, the Fulbright program actively seeks individuals of achievement and selects nominees through open merit-based competition.
“Dr. Agyei is the latest of several Norfolk State University professors to receive the Fulbright Scholar Award,” said Dr. Clarence D. Coleman, NSU vice provost, “which speaks highly for the outstanding professors we have at Norfolk State University.”
Located in Southern Africa, Botswana is the continent’s oldest democracy. The country transformed itself from one of the poorest in the world to a high middle-income country with diamond mining and cattle as its chief economic producers. However, Botswana has one of the world’s highest rates of HIV/AIDS infections and the U.S. has been helping in the efforts to combat the disease.
As a demographer, Dr. Agyei, a professor of sociology, was interested in studying non-HIV sexually transmitted infections within the population, teaching undergraduate and graduate population studies courses and creating connections between the University of Botswana and NSU. The undergraduate course, with an enrollment of 70 students, sought to equip them with the knowledge and skills to analyze and interpret population data as it pertains to fertility, mortality and migration and their results on population size, growth and structure. The graduate course focused on gender and gender roles in population development in the Third World.
His research on non-HIV sexually transmitted infections (STIs) focused on adolescents and young adults between 15 and 24 years old. “Non-HIV STIs are a serious public health problem in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Dr. Agyei, “not only because they are widespread, but also because they may have delayed, long-term consequences, including infertility, blindness, infant illness and death, and increased susceptibility to HIV.” He expects to return to Botswana to present the study’s findings, but what he is most excited about is the impact of the study and the data collected. “The outcome of my research activities will benefit students and faculty at both my host institution and home institution,” he said, suggesting that it could lead to the writing of a grant to the Centers for Disease Control or the National Institutes of Health.
Once their grant period ends, Fulbrighters are expected to pass on what they learned and seek ongoing connections. To that end, Dr. Agyei is looking toward setting up an exchange program based on the students and UB officials expressing an interest in students either spending a semester or academic year at Norfolk State.
Dr. Agyei knows that his Fulbright experience will have a lasting effect on him. “My teaching and research activities here in the U.S. will be greatly impacted by experiences gained from the Fulbright Scholar program. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as a Fulbright Scholar and represent NSU and my country in Botswana.”