Local MHS graduate to visit Africa

by | January 20, 2019 9:00 am

Last Updated: January 19, 2019 at 2:49 pm

Jabril Wilson, son of Marilyn and George Wilson of Manning, will visit West Africa again this summer.

Wilson graduated from Manning High School in 2017 and became a David M. Rubenstein scholar. This scholarship pays for all of his expenses as he pursues a double major at Duke University. It also pays for his summer trips to perform research toward his degree path.

Before Wilson arrived at Duke, he already knew he wanted to eventually practice international law, and he intended to pursue an undergraduate pre-law degree in International Public Policy. However, he wasn’t sure where this global career choice would take him.

“When I got to Duke, some of the courses I took and the professors I met opened up West Africa to me,” said Wilson. “I gained a mentor during that time who also researches in Togo in West Africa. I took a class with him my first semester, and I was instantly hooked. I knew this was the region I wanted to go to. That set my trajectory for my undergraduate career.”

As a result, Wilson picked up a second major in African Studies.

From May 14-June 25, 2018, Wilson traveled with a group to Ghana, a country in West Africa. He spent the time in the capital city of Accra, studying how international development policies affects the government culturally. He also assessed how the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) affects the macroeconomics of the country, with further research into how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other developmental organizations affect culture.

This summer, from June 11-August 14, Wilson will once again travel to West Africa. This time, he will spend the weeks in a remote village in the hills of northern Togo, another West African country near Ghana. He will live in a mud house, participate in the cultural activities and gain one-on-one interaction with local people outside the government. During this time, he will gain insights with how NGOs interact directly with the people rather than through governmental agencies.

Even before he goes this summer, he is already planning his third trip for the summer of 2020. He will travel back to both Ghana and Togo. In Togo, he will spend time in the capital city, and in Ghana, he will visit the remote villages. This will give him a wider spread to his research data and will allow him to fully compare the two countries and how they have individually been affected.

Outside of his pre-law studies, Wilson maintains membership in The Institute. Through this organization, top African American male students from Duke, UNC Chapel Hill and North Carolina Central meet every other Saturday to discuss future plans and life lessons with professionals in their prospective fields.

“I have met with a myriad of local, corporate, political and international attorneys. It’s an amazing organization for the students to network,” said Wilson.

Wilson also maintains an on-campus job in the Office of Information and Technology, where he is a student technology support consultant. He assists students, faculty and staff with technology, whether on network issues or individual computer issues.

“It’s my hobby to balance everything that’s going on,” said Wilson.

Although he has a passion for computers, he chose international law, because he feels giving voices to people who are often overlooked, such as the citizens of West African countries, is more needed. He asserts the stories of underdevelopment, health issues, lack of food and starvation are true in some areas, but they’re only a small part of West Africa.

“I feel like the impact I would create from what I’m doing over there would be bigger than if I went into computer science and started coding and programming,” said Wilson.

He does assert he will incorporate his computer skills into his career path, using his experience from the Office of Information and Technology to gain skills to move up in his career. While he will keep in touch with his passion for computers, his focus will remain on West Africa and international development.

His skills will benefit him as they assess how technology is spreading to local communities through microfinance companies and computer cafes. They will further look at technology’s impact on health issues and insurance and women’s issues and the gender divide.

“We look at how different structures are set up and how western influences are changing those structures,” said Wilson.

Wilson plans to publish his research after he completes his two bachelor’s degrees. He hopes to then pursue International Law at Duke, his top choice, although he is considering Stanford, Vanderbilt, NYU, Columbia University and Georgetown University.

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