Co-op   |   Experiential Learning   |   Featured Students   |   News

Reversing Nigeria’s ‘brain drain’

Chris­tine Umeh

Fourth-year communication studies major Christine Umeh, who has set her sights on carving out a media career in Nigeria, studied modern and traditional elements of African society while in Ghana.

Chris­tine Umeh’s par­ents grew up in Nigeria but­ moved to the United States to escape a nation rife with poverty, war, and corruption.

While they looked to Boston for a better life, Umeh set her sights set on returning to Africa.

“My goal is to move there and play a role in stop­ping the brain drain,” said Umeh, a fourth-​​year com­mu­ni­ca­tion studies major.

Umeh grew up near North­eastern and spent every summer between sixth and 12th grade on campus at Bal­four Academy, a pro­gram estab­lished by the uni­ver­sity to help local stu­dents pre­pare for col­lege. Any Bal­four stu­dent who is accepted to North­eastern is rewarded with a full schol­ar­ship and, in 2009, Umeh received one. She has made the most of the oppor­tu­nity, serving as pres­i­dent of the North­eastern African Stu­dent Asso­ci­a­tion and as one of the John D. O’Bryant African-​​American Insti­tute’s Ujima Scholars.

North­eastern doesn’t offer study abroad pro­grams to Nigeria—the U.S. State Depart­ment warns cit­i­zens against trav­eling there, espe­cially to the northern provinces where a state of emer­gency has been declared—so Umeh spent the spring semester in Ghana. She studied at Uni­ver­sity of Ghana – Legon, taking courses related to African cul­ture and media studies.

After making a con­nec­tion with the teaching assis­tant in her tra­di­tional dance course, Umeh appeared as a dancer in a Coca-​​Cola adver­tise­ment that aired world­wide. The ad’s director even enlisted her to help with music videos for some of Ghana’s top recording artists.

When she returned to Boston, Umeh imme­di­ately started plan­ning her return to Ghana. She found a co-​​op job with Empower Work­force Solu­tions, a job recruit­ment partner for which she’ll work as a public rela­tions assis­tant from the end of this month through December.

The forth­coming expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­nity is a step toward her dream job of working in Africa’s growing media and enter­tain­ment industry from Nigeria, a country she believes is on the cusp of major change. Within a decade, she pre­dicts, the country will be on its way to becoming a pros­perous, thriving nation.

“There’s so much poten­tial,” she said. “There’s so much room for devel­op­ment and invest­ment and I want to play a role in that.”

This article was originally published by news@Northeastern.