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6/15/12 - Major award to MSU doctoral student aids his life mission

The many accomplishments of a Mississippi State graduate student are being rewarded with both a highly sought invitation and a $5,000 scholarship to be part of the Future Leaders Forum in Washington, D.C.

George Awuni, a native of Ghana now residing in Starkville, is pursuing a doctorate in entomology and plant pathology. Of only a dozen U.S. university students selected from nearly 100 who applied to attend last week's forum, he was the only one selected for the scholarship--a recognition of his first-place ranking among the applicants.

The Future Leaders Forum is organized by the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development, an organization representing professionals involved in international development work.

With the exception of travel, the scholarship covered Awuni's expenses while at the meeting, which was part of AIARD's annual conference.

Before enrolling at MSU, Awuni completed a master's degree at Tuskegee (Ala.) University and a bachelor's at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in his home country.

Prior to beginning graduate-level studies, he worked for nearly two decades in Ghana's Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Additionally, he won election to his district assembly (where he was agriculture subcommittee chair), and helped establish and lead a community-based organization working on local development projects.

In his FLF application, Awuni observed that a United Nation's World Food Program study found more than a billion people worldwide struggling in extreme poverty and hunger, of which women constitute more than 60 percent.

"While pursuing my studies and working with the agriculture ministry in Ghana, it occurred to me that poverty reduction and the transformation of livelihoods in developing countries can only be achieved by a concerted effort of all stakeholders in the agricultural sector, both national and international," Awuni wrote.

He went on to note that, after completing his MSU doctorate, he plans "with enhanced enthusiasm and experience, to continue these noble goals of poverty intervention work, this time at the international level."

Sammy McDavid | University Relations

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