Help Young Liberian Environmentalist Get His MS

Please help a young environmentalist achieve his education goals!

Our friend Solomon Carlon has been accepted to a competitive Master's program in Development and Environment at Clark University in Massachusetts. Clark offered him a 75% scholarship which is amazing, but he needs to come up with the other 25% + living expenses himself (see below for a detailed budget). He is not eligible for US student loans, nor any loans because he has no assets. Despite immense difficulty including poverty, violence, and war, Solomon believes there is hope for peace and development in his country, and the world. He needs your help to achieve his educational goals, so that he can continue to work for the future of his country.

Here's a message from Solomon:

My name is Solomon C. Carlon, and I’m from Liberia, a country in west Africa. Growing up during a civil war, my family and I had to overcome numerous challenges. We never had enough food to eat. On many occasions, my oldest brother, father, and I were captured by rebels and forced to carry their equipment from village to village for days. I was terrified. One time, while escaping from the rebel’s zones to a safe zone around the capital city, all of our belongings (clothes, food, and other materials) were forcibly taken from us by rebel forces at a checkpoint; I got slapped in the process, and my father nearly got killed.

These experiences have made me stronger and more determined to help ensure that Liberia’s future is peaceful. I have seen and experienced firsthand the problems caused by environmental degradation, including poverty, hunger, land, and resource conflict. I believe that education is the only tool that would allow me to make long lasting change in my country and I’m working to equip myself to be able to challenge the realities in front of me.

Solomon with friends from the USA, Finland, and Singapore

My education dream

I was accepted and awarded a 75% tuition scholarship to Clark University to study Geographic Information Science for Development and Environment. My dream is to return home and lead an organization/company work in my home country, Liberia, to achieve a more sustainable development pathway.

I am grateful for the substantial financial assistance, but the amount of remaining money required to make this dream a reality is huge and far greater than anything I could ever realistically come up with on my own. I am reaching out to you to ask for your help. Below you will find a budget that provides a fuller picture of the finances I still need to secure to be able to participate in the program.

One thing I have learned throughout my life it is that when you need help you should never feel too ashamed to ask for it. Any advice, connections, or financial resources you would be willing to offer as support, or knowledge about scholarships that will help facilitate this academic journey, would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! 

Excited to be accepted to Clark University!

My background

I am the only member of my family to attend college. In 2014, I graduated from Cuttington University in Liberia with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. After graduating, I started a position through a competitive internship program at the Liberia office of Conservation International (CI), an environmental NGO with the mission “to empower societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the well-being of humanity.” During the internship at CI, I gained a greater appreciation for the value of the natural environment, and I increasingly recognized the need for its protection to ensure the long-term benefits of biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides to people. My interests in studying the environmental/geospatial sciences continued to grow, and at the end of the internship, I was hired to work full-time as CI’s Program and Administrative Assistant. In 2016, CI hired me as a geographic information systems (GIS) consultant to train staff in geospatial services and assist in creating mapping outputs and database management.

At my graduation in 2014

In 2017, I won a highly competitive scholarship to attend advanced GIS training as a Society of Conservation GIS (SCGIS) Scholar, selected among 150 highly qualified scientists from 30 countries around the world competing for just 18 slots. As a scholar, I traveled to California to learn advanced GIS at the University of California, Davis and attended the Esri User International Conference in San Diego, as well as the 20th Annual Conference of the SCGIS in Monterey. Since these experiences, I have been able to apply geospatial approaches to enhance conservation and sustainable development priority in Liberia. I have helped trained three government staff and led the establishment of a GIS lab at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Liberia, and I am currently providing geospatial supports to some government and non-governmental institutions.

Here's me attending a training on geographic information systems (GIS) in the USA in 2017

Next Step

Working with CI and local communities throughout Liberia, including my own, has strengthened the practical and technical skills I need as an environmental scientist to make analysis; but I have realized that if I want to be an effective leader in the field, I need to acquire further knowledge. As a student in Clark University’s Geographic Information Science for Development and Environment graduate program, I will be able to deepen my knowledge and skills on the complexity of environmental and sustainability issues, efficient application of geospatial technologies and approaches to solving problems, and stakeholder’s engagement to ensure informed decision making.

Here's me working on a forest conservation project with friends and community members in Liberia

My goal

My dream is to return home and lead an organization or company to help my home country achieve a more sustainable development pathway. Also, within the next 5 to 10 years I want to establish a geographic information systems (GIS) consultancy firm in Liberia. There is virtually no GIS capacity in Liberia, and almost no opportunities for students to learn spatial analysis and mapping. My goal is to enhance the provision of geospatial services to both governmental and non-governmental organizations, and to develop and administer GIS courses for colleges and universities in the region. 

Here's a description of the program at Clark: 

This master’s degree program combines rigorous academics with ample opportunities to take what students learn in the classroom and put it engagements with communities, nonprofits, government, and the private sector. By working hands-on with partners, students gain valuable experience applying theories and implementing creative solutions to complex problems. In addition, the program offers four concentrations within the GIS degree that enable student to focus his/her studies: GIS for Development and Environment, Conservation Applications, Global and Community Health Applications, and Remote Sensing. Each requires the completion of a set of concentration-specific courses, and each provides a valuable set of skills — and credentials — that will serve one well throughout his/her career.

Financial Requirements

Year 1
-        Remaining Tuition: $8,784
-        Housing and Meals: $10,000
-        Health Insurance: $1,793
-        Other (books, incidentals, etc): $2,500

Total: $23,077 (I am required to show I can pay this in order to secure a U.S. student visa)
Year 2
-        Remaining Tuition: $8,784
-        Housing and Meals: $10,000
-        Health Insurance: $1,793
-        Other (books, incidentals, etc): $2,000

Total: $22,577

To begin, I am hoping to raise the first year's tuition and fees, plus GoFundMe's 2.9% fee - coming to a total of about $23,746. Should I surpass this goal, the remaining balance will go toward Year 2 financial requirements.

Thank you so much for your support. It means so much to me.



Fundraising team: Team Solomon (2)

Rachel Neugarten
Raised $1,915 from 24 donations
Arlington, VA
Solomon Carlon
Team member
Raised $110 from 2 donations

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