Ashford is doing a good job transforming lives, shaping character, and pointing people to success.
“In a country like Haiti, an education of quality is a pricy commodity and the less fortunate cannot afford it,” says Phillipe Vincent. “The policy in my country on everything is, ‘If you can’t afford it, go without it.’”
Phillipe was fortunate enough to earn a scholarship and financial assistance that helped him finish high school and secondary education at Centre Classique et Culturel de Petion-Ville, one of the 18 premiere high schools in Haiti. He graduated with honors in spring 2003. As a graduation gift, he was provided a scholarship application for a college education in the United States. Cooperative Association of States for Scholarships, in collaboration with U.S. Agency for International Development, distributed 300 applications throughout Haiti with the intention of selecting 18 candidates and two alternates as scholarship winners. Phillipe spent the next year trying to prove he was valuable enough to be one of the 18 finalists. After several rounds of elimination, he found himself among four Haitian scholars chosen by Georgetown University to attend Scott Community College.
While in America for the first time, Phillipe earned his Associate’s degree in Business Administration. He then returned to Haiti and worked for a time at a shipping company. While home, he stayed in touch with one of his former U.S. host mothers who continued to search for educational opportunities in the States on his behalf. They learned that he was eligible to receive Ashford University’s President’s Scholarship, which, at the time, covered 100% of tuition for students with a GPA of 3.50 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) to attend the campus in Clinton, Iowa. He also received the Room & Board Scholarship to live on the Clinton campus at no cost during his first year.
He received his student Visa in July 2010, with plans to start school the same year. Phillipe decided to major in Business Administration with a specialization in Finance and a minor in Accounting. He says, “Knowing the Haitian job market, I combined the classes like I did so I would have a better chance of earning a position after graduation.”
Of the challenges he faced during his time in college, two things in particular were the hardest to overcome. First and foremost, he had to be away from his wife and baby daughter. Secondly, he had to interact with classmates, professors, and staff in a language that was not his native tongue. “College is very hard work,” Phillipe acknowledges, “But early on I discovered I was not being identified as the Haitian guy or just another number. There is a sense of community at Ashford that I believe probably does not exist on larger campuses. I was constantly encouraged. It was amazing to see how the instructors, advisors, and mentors were able to encourage every student to go the extra mile.” He gives additional praise to the faculty members at Ashford for being accessible, approachable, and attentive.
While attending Ashford, Phillipe worked on the Clinton campus in a position with Food Services. He spent much of his free time reading, researching, and listening to international news, music, and inspirational sermons. He graduated in 2012 at age 29.
Because he was able to maintain his grade point average, Phillipe was eligible to receive the benefits of the President’s Scholarship for his entire education at Ashford. “I will go back to my country free of debts,” he says. “Being the first one in my entire family to go this far makes me not only want to go further and further, but give everything back to the community in any way I can through community services and projects. I speak French, English, and a little bit of Spanish. I take great pride in that, considering the fact that my mom and dad can barely write their names. On the other hand, what I have learned makes me rather humble and compassionate. I remember the time when ‘lack’ and ‘shortage’ were the words most used in my life growing up.”
Phillipe is a member of Carroll County Haiti Mission Project (CCHMP). Since graduation, he already has a firm offer from his previous employer and, at the time we spoke, was in contact with Unibank, the third largest private bank in Haiti. In addition to that, he has a couple of other relatively small companies interested in hiring him. In the meantime, his next goal is to earn a Master of Business Administration.
He says, “I am thankful for my time at Ashford and to everyone who made it possible. Ashford is doing a good job transforming lives, shaping character, and pointing people to success. I am a living example of that among a countless number of alumni.”