Liberian Human Rights Advocate Vandalark Patricks Bags Master’s Degree from Harvard Kennedy School of Government

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GBARNGA, Bong County – A Liberian Human Rights Advocate, Vandalark Patricks, on May 27 achieved a big feat in his post-graduation education following his graduation from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Patricks, who was expelled in 2007 from Cuttington University in Suakoko, Bong County, for speaking against ills in the school before his graduation from the same university in 2009, got his Master’s degree in Public Administration as he thanked God for helping him achieve great success.

Patricks also humbly appreciated everyone who in any way supported him during his academic pursuit in the United States of America. 

Sharing his story on Facebook, Patricks wrote: On May 27, 2021, and a few hours from now, I will be graduating from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government with a master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA). On May 25, 2021, I was awarded the Edward S. Mason Fellowship Certificate in Public Policy and Management from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government”.

He added: “As I sit and reflect on my past, present, and future, I feel so proud of how far I have come. This journey was a difficult one, but God Almighty kept me alive to pursue this dream. Just a few reflections:

“In 1999, one of the managers for Firestone told me I was unfit for a college education. In 2003, I surprised him and enrolled at Cuttington University.

“In 2005, I was asked to drop from Cuttington due to lack of tuition. In 2006, another manager from Firestone (Mr. Kargbo) paid my tuition. Also in 2008 – expulsion was lifted, and I graduated with a BA in Public Administration. Between 2009 -2010.  I was unemployed, and in 2010, I went back to school at Cuttington Graduate School, but was thrown out due to lack of tuition. Also, I got a scholarship and graduated with a Master’s degree in Public Sector Management in 2012.

“In 2013,  I was arrested by the National Security Agency in Liberia (NSA) and severely tortured for my advocacy against human rights abuses. Additionally, 2015, I applied for five international scholarships but was denied.”

“In 2016, I got arrested for the second time by the Liberia National Police and the NSA for speaking against corruption, human rights abuses. I was  charged for Libel and Sedition. I lost my scholarship to do a law degree in the United States”.

“In 2017, I was rejected for the Residential Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity at London School of Economics. In 2018, I was also rejected to do Ph.D. at Arizona State University (I was told there was no funding). In 2019, I was rejected at Columbia University”.

Patricks said amid all the failures, trials, and temptations, pains, and sufferings, God remained the answer. “I went on my knees and asked God for direction, and he spoke. This time, I was instructed to go to the most respected and highly rated institution – Harvard Kennedy School of Government. I obeyed and submitted my application. In April 2020, I was accepted into the Harvard Kennedy School of Government”.

“When it became increasingly clear that I had no option to withdraw from the school, as there was no guarantee that I would return with the tuition, the Harvard Kennedy School became convinced of my resilience and passion for pursuing my dream. I was provided a full scholarship that included lodging, feeding, and tuition”.

“Finally, I am now walking from the Harvard Kennedy School. God!!!!!! I also want to use this time to apologize to everyone I might have hurt, knowingly and unknowingly. Please forgive me. I thought to unveil how I struggled to reach this level genuinely.  NEVER TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER. Trust me, I will remain the same, loving, carrying, and jovial Vandalark or Faloe, you know. I will make mistakes and make stupid decisions, and I ask you all to help guide me. I am your son, brother, nephew, friend, and I will be there for you all. If you feel disappointed and have placed your dream on hold, let this story inspire you”

Many congratulatory messages flooded his post as he has 3.5 comments as at the time of writing this report.

One commenter, Gayflor Beyan Garvelee, Jr, said Patricks’ success is one that is well-deserved. “Congratulations, to my mentor Vandalark Patricks!! I have always known that you will overcome your hurdles and reach this moment. I’m so proud of you. Congratulations on your graduation”.

Garvelee, a Liberian residing in the United States of America, said Patricks was instrumental in helping him move to the States and wanted to pay homage to him for a “life-changing experience”. “What you did for me would go a long way in my life. My family and I are so grateful to you. You hold a special place in our hearts, Vandalark Patricks,” he said.

He added: “It would be difficult to count all the ways that you have helped me in my life. Thank you so much for all that you have done – I only hope I can return the favor sometime in the future.”

Adama Kangoma, a native of Bong County, also congratulated Patricks for his milestone. She said: “This is your time to chase your dreams and set new goals. Believe that you and your dreams. Congratulations, Vandalark Patricks!!

My brother, friend and Commandante Vandalark R. Patricks has made me so proud! I remember the last time I saw you in DC and you told me all the great things you planned to accomplish. I never doubted you! You are a rare gem. I am so so proud of you!!! Keep soaring Vandalark!

Telia Urey, daughter of the political leader of the All Liberian Party, also posted on Facebook to congratulate Vandalark Patricks: “My brother, friend and Commandante Vandalark R. Patricks has made me so proud! I remember the last time I saw you in Washington DC and you told me all the great things you planned to accomplish. I never doubted you! You are a rare gem. I am so so proud of you!!! Keep soaring Vandalark”!

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