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Georgia Southwestern unveils classroom named for Jaha Dukureh, GSW alumna and human rights activist

AMERICUS (December 17, 2021) — Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) unveiled a renovated classroom in honor of Jaha Dukureh, a 2013 GSW alumna and human rights activist, on Thursday, Dec. 16 in a special ribbon cutting ceremony. The classroom renovation, located in the Business, History and Political Science building, included state-of-the-art technology, new floors, paint and a large wall mural.

“This is a room that will honor Jaha and inspire our students forever,” stated GSW President Neal Weaver, Ph.D. at the ceremony. “Her legacy - while it is continuing to grow across the world - her legacy here at GSW will be a great inspiration to our students of what you can overcome, who you can be and what you can do.”

Born in The Gambia in 1989, Dukureh’s arranged marriage to an unknown older man at age 15 brought her to New York City. Not long after, she was able to get away and continue her education becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2015.

She was nominated for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for her work towards ending female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage in her home country of The Gambia in West Africa and across the world. Dukureh was herself a victim of FGM at just one week old.

Dukureh went on to become the founder and CEO of a non-profit providing support for survivors of FGM and advocates for an end to FGM practices. She was recognized as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and appointed the first-ever UN Women Ambassador for Africa, among many other awards.

Dukureh recently ran for president of The Gambia and is currently focused on scaling an African-led Big Sisters Movement, which aims to end FGM and child marriage by 2030.

After hearing Dukureh’s inspiring story back in 2018 on GSW’s campus, Past Chair of the GSW Foundation Board Doug Moses was so moved and wanted to do something at Georgia Southwestern to honor her legacy, so he spearheaded the classroom project.

Upon seeing the classroom for the first time, Dukureh became emotional saying this is one of the best things to ever happen to her.

Dukureh is one of nine children and the first to receive an education. It was her mother’s wish for her daughter to be educated, and Jaha kept that wish after her mother passed. Dukureh graduated high school and earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration and management online at GSW in 2013.

There were many special guests in attendance at the ceremony, including Dr. Troy Sullivan, Dukureh’s favorite professor, Dr. Liz Wilson, the former dean of the School of Business, and Pamela Robinson, the mural designer.

While a portion of the contribution was used for room renovation and technological upgrades, the remainder of the gift was placed into a permanent endowment for ongoing classroom maintenance.

WATCH the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on GSW’s YouTube channel.