Teen with medical issues receives surprise drive-thru birthday celebration - Clarksville Now

Teen with medical issues receives surprise drive-thru birthday celebration - Clarksville Now Teen with medical issues receives surprise drive-thru birthday celebration - Clarksville Now Posted: 23 Nov 2020 11:05 AM PST CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (CLARKSVILLENOW) – Even though it was cloudy and a little rainy Sunday that didn't dampen the spirits of the many people who turned out to wish Zachariah Vazquez a happy 13 th birthday. More than 30 vehicles with family and friends participated in the drive-by parade at his home on Barrywood Circle. That included members of the Clarksville Police Department, Clarksville Fire Rescue and Montgomery County Emergency Medical Services. Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts and Cynthia Pitts were special guests in the parade with the mayor presenting Vazquez with a certificate of appointment as honorary mayor of the day for Clarksville. Vazquez said this was the best birthday

Educational edge right here at home - Beckley Register-Herald

Educational edge right here at home - Beckley Register-Herald

Educational edge right here at home - Beckley Register-Herald

Posted: 21 Nov 2020 11:06 AM PST

It's the time of year for college students across the country to enroll for spring semester classes. How many parents and students are rethinking the decision to attend college away from home amid the pandemic?   

With a little research, I learned that even before Covid-19, college and admissions counselors were reporting a surging interest in students who want to stay closer to home. Being close to home offers newer students a higher degree of support. Having friends, family and familiarity close at hand can make a big difference in the success of those critical first years of college.

There are also financial benefits to attending a community college close to home. Smaller schools have less overhead and are generally more affordable for local students. State and federal grants, scholarship dollars and in-state tuition rates are ways for area students to save money.

This is good news for southern West Virginia. The Chamber of Commerce serves nine local colleges and universities as part of our member organization: Appalachian Bible College, Bluefield State College, Bridge Valley Community and Technical College, Concord University, New River Community and Technical College, Southern WV Community and Technical College, University of Charleston, Valley College and West Virginia University Institute of Technology. 

These institutions provide many opportunities including two-year degrees, four-year degrees and master's programs. Starting here in southern West Virginia and going anywhere can be a smart move. State credits can transfer to other state schools if a student decides to transfer to a bigger school later. And while at a smaller school, students have an opportunity to do research as an undergraduate student.

WVU Tech is ranked by U.S. News and World Report in the top 100 in the nation for undergraduate engineering programs. Engineering graduates have an overall employment and graduate study rate of 96 percent.


All of our local colleges work specifically with Pell-eligible students, students with disabilities and students with other needs. That means offerings like free tutoring and academic advising are available. Combined with the ability for smaller schools to work one-on-one with students, this can have a major impact on the success of students in these programs.

Utilizing the WV Invests grant program to pursue two-year programs – like WVU Potomac State's hospitality–culinary degree at WVU Tech or over 40 programs at New River CTC is a way to earn an associate degree and get a very powerful head start on a four-year degree. New River CTC collaborates with many other higher education institutions and business partners so that students know that their future possibilities are endless.

The Concord University Beckley location has served the region for over 40 years. This location offers easy in-seat, online, and virtual classes in General Education, Social Work, and Business Administration degrees in fully accredited programs.

All of our institutions have robust career services programs that help students use that affordable training to land a job anywhere in the world. WVU Tech, for instance, is ranked No. 1 in the state for return on investment and in the top 15 percent for earning potential in the country for their graduates.  

Bluefield State College provides high-quality education in Nursing and Radiologic Technology. These two-year degree programs offered in Bluefield and Beckley prepare students to be job-ready upon graduation. Both programs continue to have 100 percent job placement for our graduates.  

University of Charleston Beckley also provides small class ratios and exceptional faculty to allow students the opportunity to join the fast-growing field of health care within about two years. Degrees are available in Nursing, Occupational Therapy Assistant and Radiologic Technology.

Another advantage to being positioned with so many higher ed opportunities is that our smaller campuses here in southern West Virginia have had success with fewer outbreaks of Covid-19. Some have been able to have in-person classes that meet safety guidelines. This past semester, Valley College taught a large part of the ground Medical Clinical Assistant program through virtual learning, but students still came on campus to do their clinical lab classes and then proceeded on to an externship. For the last official reporting period Valley achieved an 82 percent placement rate for its Medical Clinical Assistant program. 

Many small campuses have also been able to safely have athletic programs during this time when many other schools have not been able to safely do so.

As the pressure mounts for more colleges to recruit and retain out-of-state students, admissions will be faced with welcoming and accommodating students who wish to stay close to home.Given the challenges of today, many college and university leaders will have to adjust their enrollment management to meet the ever-changing student needs. Southern West Virginia higher education institutions are perfectly positioned to meet those needs.  


Michelle Rotellini is president and CEO of Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce. She also is co-owner of The Dish Cafe, a popular farm-to-table restaurant in Daniels.

Mike Adenuga: The journey from petty trade to Conoil and Glo - Nairametrics

Posted: 22 Nov 2020 12:06 AM PST

Razaq Ahmed, Co-founder and CEO of CowryWise, is no small fish in the fintech space – an industry that is fast growing to compete with the banking industry. This is more so, as Cowrywise gains even more popularity among the emerging generation who have realized that the benefits of subscribing to classic investment schemes might be much more than that of leaving funds idle in the bank – savings.

Razaq's story is a captivating one that sees one unfortunate event changing the fate of a young man. He is the focus of Nairametrics Founders Profile this week.

READ: Sim Shagaya's Edtech startup secures $3.1 million Seed Funding

Early years

Razaq Ahmed was born in Kano, where his parents lived. They had gotten married in Kano town and this was the same place they had all their children. Razaq and his siblings started their early education there.

Razaq recalled that the community in which he spent the first 14 years of his life had an unusual perception of education. Not many people were particular about tertiary education and becoming an artisan was seen as a norm for the children.

READ: CBN grants Greenwich Trust Limited operational license for merchant banking

"Traditionally, everyone attended primary education, and then secondary school, but up to 90 percent of the students combined schooling with some form of other works like manual works or learning a craft," he explained.

Based on recommendations from an uncle, Razaq started learning generator repairs and maintenance. As a secondary school student at the Army Day secondary school, he would close from school with the rest of his friends, change into casual wears, and resume at the workshop for another kind of learning.

READ: Razaq Okoya: The journey from apprentice-tailor to billionaire business mogul

Even though Razaq was intelligent and excelled in his studies, he expected to become a generator mechanic and did not see that much could come out of his education. In retrospect, he would say, "The expectation was to spend a couple of years learning the skill, and then have the ceremonial freedom, after which you start up in your workshop and become successful. Every successful person in the community around whom we could identify with seemed to have toed that path, so this was what shaped our thinking at the time and defined our idea of success."

Already in SS2 at the age of 14, Razaq was well on his way to becoming a 'generator man' as they were called in the community. Even though there was a tertiary institution – Bayero University – in Kano, it was quite a distance from the town where they lived, so the young children hardly came in contact with people in the academic community. Rasaq's parents had no plans of relocating and the future seemed pretty much predictable. Fate, however, had other plans.

READ: Crypto: Popular Hedge Fund, Grayscale record best quarter ever

The turning point

At age 14, the family had their life disrupted by the Hausa-Yoruba crisis which rocked the country in 1999. The fracas was traced back to some Hausa men who had been killed in Sango-Ota and their bodies sent home to their families in Kano. This erupted into a major crisis that claimed the lives of many Yorubas and Hausas across the country. As Yoruba residents in a Hausa community, Razaq's family became victims of targeted attacks.

On one of such attacks where Yoruba residents were being slaughtered by an angry mob, the entire family nearly lost their lives but for the timely sound of the gunshot of men from the Nigerian Army.

"We were all indoors hoping and praying that something magical would happen because we had seen other people being killed, and we were conscious of the fact that it could be our last day. The mob only had sticks and cutlasses. So, immediately we heard the gunshots, we knew help had come. If the Nigerian army had waited a few more minutes before they arrived, I wouldn't be here today," Rasaq narrated.

After shooting in the air to disperse the mob, the soldiers took them to the Bukavu barracks where they were camped as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Army Day Secondary School – the same school where Rasaq was a student.

This was the turning point in Rasaq's life. His parents decided then that they could no longer gamble the lives of the entire family in such a crisis. The 1999 crisis was the third major crisis in which the family survived unscathed – and it did not seem like they would be lucky enough to survive a fourth. They relocated to their hometown in Ogbomoso to start life from the scratch.

"We never had plans of coming back to the southwest, it was completely accidental and it was this accident that completely changed the course of my life," Rasaq states wistfully.

New mentors – New dreams

Back to Ogbomoso, the Ahmeds moved into the house of an extended family located at Isale, not far from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH). For the first time in his life, Rasaq started seeing undergraduate students and admission seekers, who talked about lectures, examinations, and careers after school.

He also got to meet with a distant uncle who was a Lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University. From interacting with post-secondary students who were seeking admission, Rasaq soon came to understand that the subjects they were studying were no different from the subjects he was already studying.

"This showed me that I did not need to do anything abnormal to become like them, and with this understanding, I became the first person in my immediate family in Kano that would go to a university."

He first attempted the University Matriculation Examination (UME) before taking his West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE). He came out with the best WASC results in his school in Ogbomoso, but his UME score was 20 points below the 235 cut-off mark of the University of Ilorin which he had selected for his first and second choice.

The following year, he selected Obafemi Awolowo University and was admitted to study Economics. After a few years of ardent academic studies and educative activities as a member of the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) club, Rasaq bagged First class honors in Economics and secured a job with Meristem Securities in 2007, courtesy of Saheed Bashiru – a senior schoolmate, whose acquaintance he made in his final year.


The job offer came before the National Youth Service year, so Razaq served out the year at Meristem Securities as a Research Analyst. This marked his introduction into Investment banking, as he was saddled with responsibilities which helped him build capacity. When Saheed Bashiru moved to another unit, Razaq became Head of the research unit.

In 2010, Razaq left Meristem for Vetiva Capital Management, where he spent about four months as a Research analyst.

He had a short break from investment banking in December 2010, when he resumed with Shell Petroleum Development Company as Business Economist. This break affected his CFA programme which he had started at the time, delaying his completion till 2012. While working at the SPDC, he also took a professional course to become an Energy Risk Professional (ERP).

Founding Sart Partners

After completing the CFA program in 2012, Rasaq Ahmed founded Sart Partners, an investment vehicle to carry out investment management in the alternative assets space that cuts across oil and gas, commodities, real estate, and other informal sectors. He explained that his years as an investment banker had shown him the larger market in the informal and alternative asset space which, though profitable, was not exposed to investors.

"A lot of companies need to be formalized, so they become investable and provide liquidity option for investors. My target was to formalize the informal sector and make them investable options. There are lots of opportunities that evade businesses in this country when they do not have the required institutional framework."

Under the holding company, subsidiaries were set up to handle real estate, agriculture, FMCG brands, and a Joint Venture Agreement with a distribution company to handle oil and gas. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement where the investors were issued the SART commodity link notes to make investments, and they got returns at the end of the month.

This classic investment banking arrangement was only open to private institutional investors and high net worth individuals, and the minimum Entry investment was N1million. Though the holding company started quite small with about 20 to 30 million naira, it grew fast till it was worth about half a billion naira.

The birth of Cowrywise

As the world got 'techified', there was a need to merge technology into the classic investment arrangement. Also, at about the same time, there were indicators showing a larger pool of ordinary individuals interested in being a part of the arrangement.

"The idea of cowrywise came in when we had a lot of people come asking 'how do I invest 1000 naira and small amounts like 50,000 naira. After much deliberations, we decided that the best way to scale was to open it up to the public and that was what gave birth to Cowrywise."

To eliminate bumps from the process, Cowrywise introduced the automated savings option that allows people to use a saving schedule and invest as easily as they spend.

Meristem Securities was introduced into the arrangement as a check, to ensure that the savings are actually going into risk-free instruments. The idea, Razaq explains, is to let savings become a lifestyle, you save while living your normal life.


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