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Dr. George E. Gabriel: The Sri Lankan who was Appointed to the President’s Commission on Whitehouse Fellowships

2021 Jul 1

Dr. George E. Gabriel was appointed to the US President’s Commission on White House Fellowships on the 4th of June this year. Hailing from Sri Lanka, Dr. Gabriel is an alumnus of the University of Kelaniya and was a Professor of Economics who then migrated to the United States to continue his higher education as a Fulbright Scholar. The Fulbright Programme brings international students to America to study, teach or do research and sends American students overseas to do the same; and the Scholarship is actually a group of several thousand awards that are granted each year. Fulbright Scholars are chosen based on academic merit and display of leadership qualities, among other factors. (http://www.fulbrightsrilanka.com/)

Having obtained his Master of Arts as well as his Ph.D. in Economics and Sociology from Vanderbilt University, he is now a first-generation college graduate and a lifelong educator and researcher with close to half a century’s experience in the field. During this time, Dr. George has held multiple positions as a professor, senior researcher and administrator across several community colleges (e.g. his alma mater, Montgomery College, and Northern Virginia Community College- NOVA); and has always been focused on educational inclusivity and the success of students in such institutions.

His specific goal is to narrow achievement gaps in student outcomes by implementing innovative practices, and he is the Vice President of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Student Success Initiatives (OIESSI) at his current place of work- NOVA. Here he oversees institutional research, college planning and student assessment, and his projects include a College Readiness Evaluator and a Developmental Math and English Redesign Project. Dr. Gabriel’s ambition is indeed commendable- after all, education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who are prepared for today- and everyone deserves an opportunity to it.

Upon appointment to the Commission, the United States Embassy in Colombo congratulated Dr. George E. Gabriel on Twitter and the White House also released an official press announcement in this regard. According to this, the Commission on White House Fellowships consists of hallmark individuals who reflect the collective diversity and strength of America while representing a broad range of backgrounds, experiences and professions. Commissioners are responsible for recommending a group of candidates to the President for selection as ‘White House Fellows’- a prestigious leadership and public service programme that gives young qualified Americans the experience of working at the highest levels of the federal government.

When appointing the 22 members to the Commission, President Joe Biden said- “These leaders represent the best of America – our collective character, creativity, and diversity. I am grateful these dedicated and accomplished Americans will help select and mentor the next class of White House Fellows who demonstrate exceptional leadership, unwavering passion, and a strong commitment to public service.”

What’s also noteworthy is that June marks National Immigrant Heritage Month in the United States. It is dedicated to celebrating immigrant heritage, stories and cultures. This was officially proclaimed by the White House and President Joe Biden on the 1st of June this year, who said, “Wave after wave of immigrants have enriched our Nation and made us better, stronger, more innovative, and more prosperous.  The promise of our Nation is that every American has a fair shot and an equal chance to get ahead… I have placed equity at the center of my Administration’s agenda.  From day one, I promised that my Administration would reflect the full diversity of our Nation- and today, nearly one-third of my Administration’s 1,500 political appointees are naturalised U.S. citizens or children of immigrants.”

With a strong belief that higher education is the primary tool for socioeconomic mobility with equity at the heart of the mobility agenda, Dr. George E. Gabriel will no doubt be a valuable addition to the US Commission on Whitehouse Fellowships. The greatest asset of a nation is its people- and the success of its people is no doubt the success of the nation. While certainly wishing our exceptional citizens would stay in Sri Lanka and contribute to our nation’s success, we at Pulse congratulate him on this achievement- one that has brought pride and prestige to our country, and wish him all the success in his future endeavours as a part of this distinguished body.