Valentine Eben

ICP Degree Concentrations: Information Technology Infrastructure, Global Studies, Social Justice
Scholarships: Julius Nolte-Harold Miller Scholarship and Karin L. Larson Interdisciplinary Education Scholarship recipient

"I grew up in Cameroon, where the government owned and controlled all the media outlets, T.V., radio, print, etc. As a child, I often heard stories of intellectuals and journalists killed or jailed for daring to question this regime, as well as stories about what life was like in the days of joined administration with Nigeria; about the electoral politics, and freedom of the press or freedom of association, etc.

So, when I was a teenager in the late 1980s, I followed with awe the pro-democracy protests in Eastern Europe. Before long, similar uprisings spread to Africa; and as the pro-democracy movement spread, I joined other community organizers to try and duplicate the uprisings in Cameroon. Because of my involvement in these protests, in 1998 I had to go into exile in Europe.

While there, I continued working in grassroots organizations. Aware of the importance of communication (i.e. media access) in garnering public support for social justice causes, I became active in an alternative software foundation that provides internet services, computer training, and open-source software solutions to community-based organizations at very low cost.

My work [over the past 10-plus years] showed me how much more I could contribute to [these causes] with advanced IT training. That's why I decided to return to school in the Inter-College Program. It allowed me to put together a degree that covers exactly what I'm interested in--social justice, community organizing, and IT. The ITI portion will help me develop more technical skills, while my social justice and global studies courses will allow me to gain empirical knowledge about what others are doing to pair with the hands-on work I've been doing already. With my degree, I hope to help community organizations leverage technology in order to achieve their missions."

Minneapolis/East Bank skyline
"Valentine's early years in Africa formed his consciousness, and his thematic ICP degree focuses on how to support community involvement at the grassroots level through technology. Combining IT infrastructure with sustainability and global studies was truly unique; this demonstrates how a person's life experience and wish to effect change in the world can be expressed in the individualized degree." --Karolyn Redoute, ICP adviser