Former Refugee Graduates CSU with Master's Degree

Paul Yarwaye is graduating from Columbus State University this week with one goal in mind: bring clean water to Liberia. Yarwaye understands first-hand the effects of Liberia's water crisis. Nearly 20 years ago, he fled the West African country as a refugee. Now he is graduating with his master's in public administration from CSU.

"It would be a great relief for people in Liberia," said Yarwaye. "I want to go back and purify water so they can have clean water to drink and to grow crops."

Yarwaye moved to Columbus in 2005, after spending six years in Ghana awaiting resettlement as a Liberian refugee. In 2011 he became a U.S. citizen, and in 2013 he began his bachelor's degree in health sciences at CSU. Following his first CSU graduation in May 2016, he enrolled in CSU's master's in public administration program. Since that time, he has been earning his second degree and working in the Office of the Provost as a student assistant. Now he hopes to return to Liberia, using his new skills and knowledge to create a nonprofit that brings clean drinking water to his home country.

"In my first degree, I learned the science behind clean water. Then my graduate studies helped me to have the leadership ability to be able to lead a group of people and have management skills," said Yarwaye. "I'm so grateful. America opened a door, and I walked through it. I'm so grateful to the United States government, God, and the CSU family for working with me for all their efforts and all of their support."

Yarwaye is one of 930 graduates to be recognized at CSU's four commencement ceremonies this week. For more information on CSU's spring 2019 commencement ceremonies, visit