University Welcomes 25 Mandela Washington Scholars to Campus

Jackson State University brings fellows to UM to talk leadership, tour facilities

Fellows from the ninth annual cohort of Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders tour the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence as a part of the Jackson State University-led group’s visit to Ole Miss. Photo by Sri Chattopadhyay/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Twenty-five young leaders and scholars from across Africa toured the University of Mississippi campus this week as a part of the ninth annual Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

“It was a privilege to witness firsthand the remarkable work being done at Ole Miss,” said Agbor Ransome, a graduate student from Cameroon and one of the 2023 Mandela Washington fellows. “The experience was truly inspiring and left a lasting impression on me.” 

A group from Jackson State University, one of 28 institutions across the nation hosting fellows this year, took a bus from the state’s capital this week to tour the Ole Miss campus and network with leaders.

“I wanted the students to learn all of what Mississippi has to offer,” said Saundra Thompson McFarland, associate professor of business and law at JSU and one of the coordinators for the trip. “The fellows showed an interest in automation and engineering, and what you have to offer at the CME is attractive.” 

The students arrived Sunday (July 16) for dinner and a networking event before attending a leadership workshop and visiting with the African Caribbean Students Association, Office of Pre-College Programs, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence. The fellows also shared their experiences with high school students at a cultural exchange luncheon.

Students from across Africa talk with UM campus leaders as a part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, of which Jackson State University is a participating institution. Photo by Sri Chattopadhyay/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

“What a pleasure to meet such dynamic leaders asking insightful questions and sharing knowledge about how to build successful businesses that support communities,” said Kirsten Dellinger, associate dean of diversity and inclusion for the College of Liberal Arts and professor of sociology. “The potential for local and global partnerships is immense.”

During the trip, the fellows met with and asked questions of university faculty and staff and local leaders, including Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill.

“It is immensely important for African leaders to harness their skills and knowledge in order to give back, uplift their homes and create sustainable change for the betterment of their communities,” said Oluqasheyi “Shey” Taiwo, a Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Innovation fellow and a UM graduate student in integrated marketing communications from Chicago.

“Their passion, drive, and commitment to making a positive impact in their communities through innovation and entrepreneurship was truly remarkable.” 

The campus visit came about through a connection Thompson McFarland has with J.R. Love, project manager for the Grisham-McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, she said. Love and Thompson McFarland both serve on the planning committee for the Mississippi Entrepreneurship Forum. 

“They are learning about how leaders in Mississippi do business and how universities operate across the state of Mississippi,” Love said. “It is an honor and privilege for the Grisham-McLean Institute to be asked by Jackson State University to join such an impressive group of people.”