Students Will Learn Vital Construction Skills to Help Rebuild Haiti
Alfred State College president Dr. John M. Anderson has announced a new scholarship initiative to benefit students from Haiti affected by the recent earthquake devastation. The “Scholarships for Haiti” program has been established to provide five scholarships in either its building construction  or construction management engineering technology  curriculums in an effort to help rebuild the infrastructure of the struggling island nation.
“The mission of the Scholarships for Haiti program is to help transform lives by reaching out to a community in desperate need,” Anderson said. “So many Americans have roots in Haiti. What better way to provide aid than to help educate their youth in the disciplines that can be applied to rebuilding their country?”
The scholarships will allow five students to pursue two or four years of study in either of the College’s two construction programs beginning in August 2010.
“The students will have the opportunity to receive a top-notch education in the construction industry trade,” Anderson noted. “We can offer a unique curriculum perfectly suited to the array of skills in such great demand in Haiti, from carpentry to project management. This is a long-term challenge being faced in Haiti, and these students will be well prepared to contribute significantly to helping to solve those challenges.”
Alfred State College has been ranked the top undergraduate construction management school in New York State, as well as among the top 10 nationally. (Nelson, Michael, December 31, 2006, C-School Blog – Construction Management Education) The standard four-year curriculum features a balance of technical courses designed to familiarize the graduates with all aspects of construction management, and prepare them for career opportunities as project managers, estimators, construction supervisors, project schedules, and many other related professions. The two–year building construction program will prepare the students with the hands-on skills necessary to rebuild Haiti.
According to Anderson, the five scholarship students will be selected in the upcoming months. “We’re working through the SUNY Office of the Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs as well as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s office to get in contact with the appropriate organizations within Haiti to help identify the five students.”
The Scholarships for Haiti program is similar to previous efforts to aid students from countries affected by significant natural disasters. In 2008, 150 Chinese students who were impacted by the earthquake in the Sichuan province were provided with tuition and living expenses at 22 State University of New York (SUNY) campuses. Two of those students attended Alfred State College for one year. The program  allowed the students to continue their education and then return home to China after one year to help rebuild the local economy. Similarly, students from Alfred State College’s construction programs continue to provide hands-on help rebuilding the U.S. Gulf Coast region as a result of the damage exacted by Hurricane Katrina.
“We were inspired by the leadership provided by SUNY following the China earthquake and took it upon ourselves to seek out a way to help in Haiti,” Anderson said. “Of course, in this instance we will be able to offer up to four full years of education in two very unique curriculums. The array of study includes everything from carpentry to construction management and will provide the level of occupational relevance and sustainability that these students will require in order to have a significant positive impact back in their home country. These are very specific and multi-faceted programs, with an outstanding faculty and the most advanced tools and state-of-the-art technology.”
The scholarship program is just one way in which Alfred State College students, faculty, and staff are reaching out to help those in Haiti. The college community effort “Rebuilding Haiti One Brick at a Time” has raised more than $7,000 to date through various events and donations.
According to Anderson, the college will continue to solicit grants and private donations to help offset the costs of the Scholarships for Haiti program. “The timing is such that we have not had an opportunity to fully pursue that side of things yet. We knew that in this instance it was more important to act quickly. It is our hope that other SUNY schools will follow our lead and make scholarships available in other programs that could directly benefit Haiti.”