By Naeisha Rose
Mohammed Jagana is a recent graduate of St. John’s University in Jamaica, a former intern for state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), and in March he learned that he was a recipient of the coveted Fulbright Scholarship.
“My parents are really excited and really proud,” said Jagana. “I’m a first-generation college student so it meant a lot to both my parents and my siblings.”
In the last week of August, Jagana will be heading to the Netherlands to attend the University of Amsterdam and study Applied Sciences, research the country’s educational system and also work as an English teacher’s assistant at the prestigious institution.
Despite having already been accepted to graduate law programs at Cornell University, Northwestern, Georgetown, George Washington, Boston College, St. John’s University, the University of Southern California, Seattle University, Washington University in St. Louis and Emory, Jagana wanted to get a chance to go overseas for the first time.
He applied to the program back in October 2017 and knew if he got it that he would definitely change his plans.
“My goal was to attend [law school] in the fall, but I wanted to have an international experience,” said Jagana. “I came across the Fulbright Scholarship and this amazing opportunity would allow me to immerse myself in a new culture.”
The Fulbright U.S. Program is an international educational exchange program funded by Congress and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and awardees are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as their record of service and for their potential as a leader in a respective field.
“It was great getting the news,” said Jagana about being accepted to the program.
One person who was not surprised by Jagana’s selection was his former boss, Comrie.
“It was clear from the get-go that Mohammed has an exceptional talent for research and analysis,” said Comrie. “My staff and I are thrilled, though not at all surprised, that he was chosen for the Fulbright program. I look forward to hearing even greater news about his successes as he continues his education and begins a career.”
Jagana is beyond overjoyed for his first international trip.
“I’m excited about everything, to be honest,” said Jagana, who wants to see the Anne Frank House, travel through the canals in Amsterdam, and go to the Hague, the city where the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice are based, according to the government and politics major.
While Jagana can’t wait to leave for Amsterdam, the Seattle native will miss Queens.
“I was initially drawn to St. John’s given its location in New York. For as long as I can remember, I always aspired to one day move to New York City to grow both personally and professionally in a culturally diverse part of the world,” said Jagana.
He lived on campus at St. John’s and was a resident assistant his senior year.
“It was a rewarding experience,” said Jagana, who will also miss the multi-ethnic cuisine. “To be honest it was the food [that was my favorite thing]. I loved being able to eat American food, and then 10 minutes down the road I can get the Caribbean Jamaican oxtails and beef patties, Chinese food and real Italian pizzas.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose