Nearly 10,000 College Textbooks Donated: Cameroon Project at SPC
When a St. Philip's College alumnus and faculty member recognized local high school students for philanthropic excellence, the school reported on two innovative college initiatives that intersected in November.
Nursing program alumnus and biology faculty member Dr. Solomon Nfor is the architect of the six-year-old college classroom series known as Jessica's Project http://alamo.edu/spc/jessicasproject/ with semesterly classroom events that have engaged hundreds of St. Philip's College students and faculty (from arts and sciences, health sciences and applied science and technology) with the community to address a health issue through an evidence-based program. With faculty sponsorship, students learn about the impact of nutrition on health as they raise awareness on campus and in their community. While past projects have addressed spina bifida, cardiovascular health, celiac disease, gastroparesis, Crohn's disease and unplanned pregnancy prevention, the project helps San Antonio seniors go healthier and greener while they share knowledge as guests in the first working 100 percent organic community garden on San Antonio’s East Side. The 6,500 square-foot East Side Community Garden where gardeners can take organic produce home for meals was initiated by a group of seniors who are assisted by volunteers and neighbors as part of Jessica's Project.
The event draws students citywide, most recently from La Vernia High School, with student council officers Amanda Leija, Cruz Leija, Allison Newberg, Leah Munoz among students accompanied by their faculty sponsor, Sandy Land. On Nov. 9, Nfor acknowledged the student council members and schools in their district who joined in collecting 9,000 books for English-speaking schools in Cameroon that are unable to get this quantity of books in a single shipment for their students. The story was part of the school’s Nov. 10 report Student Council honored for Nfor’s Care for Cameroon Projecthttp://hs.lvisd.org/student-council-honored-for-care-for-cameroon-project/.
In May of 2016, the college completed an international goodwill project to ship educational materials to a projected multiple thousands of students in the science and nursing fields at the University of Buea school system in Cameroon. Led by Nfor, the project team of faculty and students from St. Philip’s College collected 1,800 pounds of books and 11 microscopes for over four years. College contributors included natural sciences faculty members who donated items from their personal libraries and the college’s student success staff. Additional contributors included the library staff at University of Incarnate Word, and Pearson Book Company. Financial support for shipping the materials came from college natural science students and faculty. In acknowledgement, higher education officials from Cameroon visited the college.
Those goods shipped in May arrived in Cameroon that July, when Nfor was present in Cameroon to personally distribute those books and lab equipment to two universities, with chancellors and small numbers of students present for summer classes.
When Nfor was interviewed for commercials promoting enrollment at the college, he shared, "After high school, my father said he could not afford to send me to the university; that he had done all he could for me. Life was hard and I thought going to the Marist Seminary to become a man of God was the easiest solution. It did not work out and I literally ran away from my hometown to my cousin in the big city who initially enrolled me at the university of Buea. It is at this university that I earned my first degree and first masters degree most of the time self-sponsoring myself by selling odd goods on the streets in Cameroon. Coming from a large African family - my father being a polygamist, education was the only way out of misery. It was the safe haven for many youths. My father made sure I went to school but he could only do so until I graduated from high school. The virtues instilled in me by my father and seminary experience is what drives me in this career path. I believe education is the way forward and that is why I have not stopped going to school. It was so difficult to get this much education, so I just cannot envisage myself not studying for another degree. Teaching is my way of giving back.”
CAPTION: An archival image of a 2016 ceremonial reception for microscopes and books in Cameroon is a reminder of ongoing local efforts to give back, led by St. Philip’s College nursing program alumnus and biology faculty member Dr. Solomon Nfor. (SPC image)