A score of scholars in Northeastern’s Ujima Global Leaders Pro­gram arrived on campus on Thursday for their new stu­dent ori­en­ta­tion, and then spent the next four days attending work­shops, exploring the city, and par­tic­i­pating in team-​​building activities.

The schol­ar­ship pro­gram, facil­i­tated by the John D. O’Bryant African-​​American Insti­tute, aims to pre­pare the next gen­er­a­tion of campus, com­mu­nity, and industry leaders.

Richard O’Bryant, the institute’s director and a lec­turer of polit­ical sci­ence, has placed an emphasis on recruiting stu­dents with a strong interest in diver­sity and inclu­sion. “The pro­gram is focused on devel­oping leaders to suc­ceed in an increas­ingly diverse and com­plex world,” he said. “We want stu­dents to hone their com­mu­ni­ca­tion and lead­er­ship skills needed to engage with people from other coun­tries and cultures.”

The Ujima Global Leaders Pro­gram, for­merly known as the Ujima Scholars Pro­gram, has in the past year under­gone some­thing of a trans­for­ma­tion. To wit, O’Bryant and Nakeisha Cody, the O’Bryant Institute’s asso­ciate director and pro­gram coor­di­nator, worked with admis­sions staff to rede­fine the program’s mis­sion and recruit higher-​​achieving stu­dents, focusing on first-​​generation scholars with an interest in sci­ence, tech­nology, engi­neering, and math. The average GPA of the 2014 entering class, com­prised of 34 stu­dents from throughout the country, is 3.7 on a 4.0 scale. “We wanted the pro­file of the program’s stu­dents to reflect the momentum of the uni­ver­sity at large,” O’Bryant said.

As global leaders in training, the stu­dents will com­plete 50 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice each year and work closely with the Honors Pro­gram, the Uni­ver­sity Scholars Pro­gram, and sev­eral of Northeastern’s cul­tural groups, including the Inter­na­tional Stu­dent and Scholar Insti­tute. The emphasis on col­lab­o­ra­tion, both on campus and in the com­mu­nity, befits the Ujima Global Leaders: The word “Ujima” is Swahili for “col­lec­tive work and responsibility.”

On Friday morning, the stu­dents took a lead­er­ship style assess­ment test in the Cabral Center and then dis­cussed the inter­play between iden­tity and per­sonal devel­op­ment with Chong Kim-​​Wong, the assis­tant director of res­i­den­tial life.

In between the 75-​​minute ses­sions, a few of the young leaders dis­cussed their paths to North­eastern and their plans to become pos­i­tive change agents at the uni­ver­sity and beyond.

Kasia Gibson, E’19, grew up in Char­lotte, North Car­olina, where she fre­quently tutored first graders while she was in high school. Even then, she worked to instill in her young pupils the value of edu­ca­tion.  “Hope­fully,” she said, “I inspired them to want to go to college.”

At North­eastern, Gibson wants to work in a research lab­o­ra­tory and vol­un­teer in the com­mu­nity. “Com­mu­nity ser­vice is all about giving back and inspiring people to do more in their lives,” the first-​​generation col­lege stu­dent said. “It is my duty to inspire.”