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NSU Alum Living in Southern Africa Talks About Loss of Nelson Mandela

(NSU NEWSROOM---Dec. 12, 2013)--Norfolk State University alum Jennifer Jiggetts has been able to witness some of the impact former South Africa President Nelson Mandela has made on the continent firsthand.

The 28-year-old, who graduated with a journalism degree from the NSU Department of Mass Communications and Journalism in 2007, has lived in Lesotho for the past year as volunteer for the United States Peace Corps. She teaches English and life skills to elementary and middle school-aged students. Lesotho is a small country about 350 miles south of Johannesburg and is geographically surrounded by South Africa.

Jiggetts said prior to the 95-year-old’s passing this week, he was already respected across the continent through various murals, paintings and literature she came across during her travels. Jiggetts, who sometimes travels through South Africa as part of her Peace Corps responsibilities, said news of his death has impacted most of the people she has encountered in both countries.


“The overall mood in the village where I live in Lesotho has been somber, but people have paid their respects by holding vigils and musical celebrations,” Jiggetts said in an email she sent to the Office of Communications and Marketing this week.

Thousands of world leaders, dignitaries and celebrities---from U.S. President Barack Obama, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and local U.S. Representative Bobby Scott----to entertainment stars such as Bono, talk-show host Oprah Winfrey and model Naomi Campbell attended Mandela’s memorial at the Johannesburg FNB Stadium on Dec. 10.

As thousands of people mourned Mandela publicly at the stadium, millions from across the globe mourned the death of the civil rights leader by holding vigils, memorials and organizing educational events to pay their respects to the former political prisoner-turned-politician.

Jiggetts said since moving to Lesotho, she has learned more about Mandela’s fight to the end of the apartheid government and liberate oppressed South Africans. In a few weeks, the Peace Corps volunteer plans to visit the Robben Island Museum, the location where Mandela spent 27 years as a political prisoner. She said she is excited to learn more about South African history and culture.

She said the lesson Mandela taught the World about sacrifice is something everyone can learn from. She said she has applied some of the lessons he taught to her own life.

“I joined Peace Corps because I have a heart for service and I wanted to give back,” she said.

After her graduation in 2007, Jiggetts worked as a reporter as part of a one-year internship program with The Virginian-Pilot. She then went to The Carroll County Times in Maryland and worked as a metro reporter. Jiggetts returned to The Virginian-Pilot in 2010 and worked as a general assignment reporter in the publication’s Virginia Beach newsroom prior to her international appointment

She credits Norfolk State University for helping her to fulfill her dreams.

“NSU is where I got my start,” Jiggetts said. “The school prepared me by giving me a solid foundation on which to study my craft, apply what I learned and to dream about what might be possible for my life.”

Follow her journey in Lesotho on her blog, http://www.make-upmusicmoneyme.blogspot.com/.

The first pictures are Mandela murals in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
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