Columbus State University Commencement: Graduate from West Africa Plans to Return Home to Provide Clean Drinking Water

PaulYarwayeCOLUMBUS, Ga. --- Seventeen years ago, Paul Yarwaye fled Liberia seeking refuge from a nation plagued by civil war. This Saturday, he will graduate with a degree in health science from Columbus State University armed with the knowledge he needs to help his former West African home.

Yarwaye, 55, plans to pull from his lessons as a health science major to establish a not-for-profit organization that will teach his countrymen and women how to sanitize their drinking water.

“My courses gave me a lot of insight about contemporary health problems,” said Yarwaye. “In Liberia, I experienced those problems. I witnessed them. I suffered them. Now, I want to go back to help my people.”

Yarwaye is among nearly 800 degree recipients who will be recognized during Columbus State University’s spring 2016 commencement ceremony Saturday, May 14 beginning at 4 p.m. at the Columbus Civic Center. This year’s commencement speaker is Marc Olivié, president and chief executive officer of the W.C. Bradley Co.

Yarwaye moved to join his sister in Columbus, Ga in 2005. Before that, he spent six years in Ghana awaiting resettlement that was extended by the events of 9/11. He earned an associate’s degree in pharmacy technology from Columbus Technical College, and started CSU’s Bachelor of Health Science program in 2013.

Dustin Worsley was his first advisor - and mentor - at CSU.

"I am grateful and honored to have crossed paths with Paul,” said Worsley, assistant director of CSU’s Academic Center for Excellence (ACE). “His determination and persistence have been incredibly inspiring over the past few years.”

Worsley is also CSU’s adult re-entry coordinator. In addition to providing academic advising and connecting students with tutoring resources, ACE is committed to helping nontraditional students like Yarwaye return to the classroom as quickly and easily as possible. ACE houses CSU’s Adult Resource Center that is open year-round to provide high quality support and services to adult learners.

“I was yearning for school, but there were no colleges in Liberia,” said Yarwaye. “I knew that in the U.S., my opportunities would be wide open.”

Before booking his return trip, Yarwaye has one more target in mind: a master’s degree. He is currently awaiting acceptance to the Master of Arts in Teaching program in CSU’s Department of Health, Physical Education and Exercise Science.

During his remaining time at CSU, Yarwaye said he plans to seek out advice from his business school counterparts to learn about grant writing and entrepreneurship, skills that will ultimately help his nonprofit succeed.

“No matter the challenge or barrier, Paul has always met it with a smile and a positive outlook,” Worsley said. “I expect Paul to be successful no matter what road he takes in life".

For more information on CSU’s spring 2016 commencement ceremony, visit  A live webcast of the ceremony will be available from