Are you a faculty member who is impressed by the quality of work your
students are submitting? Encourage them to present their work at the 2014
Undergraduate Scholars Forum (UCF) or the Graduate Scholars Forum.
This is the third story in a series highlighting the work of past forum
participants and award winners. In this case, it was the encouragement of
Professor Yaya Sissoko that inspired Chioma Umunnakwe to submit her
During the 2013 USF, Business and Human Relations
undergraduate student Chioma Umunnakwe won the Eberly College of Business and
Information Technology Dean’s Award for Excellence for her research of
Ethiopia’s economic recovery in her project,
“Ethiopia’s Underdevelopment: Rising Beyond Missed Opportunities.”
She wrote the research paper as an assignment for her
Economic Development class during the Fall 2012 semester. In her research, she
discovered that despite past images of poverty and desolation, Ethiopia’s
economy is recovering and the country is becoming financially viable. Umunnakwe
said that before her research, she knew very little about Ethiopia other than
the destitution often portrayed in the media. “I found out things I wouldn’t
have known otherwise,” she said.
Her research shed light on the reasons for Ethiopia’s
economic comeback. Although Ethiopia had previously relied solely on its coffee
exports as a means of income, the country is now building dams to generate
hydroelectric power to sell to neighboring countries. This new source of income
has revived the country in other ways by improving the quality of education,
health, life expectancy, and infrastructure, she explained.
Professor Yaya Sissoko, who taught the Economic Development
class, approached her last spring and suggested she submit her research for the
USF awards. Umunnakwe had tucked her research paper away and had to find it;
she had never considered submitting it for an award. In fact, she didn’t attend the awards
ceremony after the presentation of her research to the USF judges. So she was
shocked when she found out later that she had won the Dean’s Award.
Umunnakwe said she was thrilled that her
research won an award. “All in all, I was honored to be recognized,” she said.
Umunnakwe is now pursuing her master’s degree at IUP in Employment and Labor