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A Nigeria teenager, Chiemeka Richard Ugochukwu, who recently won this year’s Jack Kent Cooke (JKC) Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, is now on the verge of fulfilling his dream of becoming a medical doctor in the United States. He has since enrolled at Goergia Perimeter College (GPC), where apart from being a student, he had started an unofficial tutoring session for his fellow chemistry students. SEYI GESINDE reports:
Nigerian teenager, Chiemeka Richard Ugochukwu, 19, has emerged this year’s Jack Kent Cooke (JKC) Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship winner. Ugochukwu, who arrived the United States two years ago for academic pursuit was said to have no idea of how he would pay for his education and work on his goal of becoming a doctor.
Now, Chiemeka has joined 60 other scholars selected in the United States as Jack Kent Cooke scholar to pursue a career in an American school. He has since enrolled at Georgia Perimeter College (GPC).
The scholarship, according to organisers “is intended to cover a significant share of each recipient’s educational costs, including tuition, living expenses, books and required fees, for the final two to three years necessary to achieve a bachelor’s degree.”
According to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation: “The awards vary by individual, based on the cost of tuition as well as other grants or scholarships awardees may receive. Students can receive up to $30,000, a year for three years”.
“This is a testament to the hardwork and dedication of our students as well as the quality of the faculty here at Georgia Perimeter College.
“Congratulations to Chiemeka for making the most of his time at GPC and continuing a tradition that makes the entire college proud, said GPC President Dr. Anthony S. Tricoli.”
According to a report published by University System of Georgia (USG) publication, it said “with Ugochukwu’s award, Georgia Perimeter continues its legacy of providing qualified candidates to one of the nation’s most generous scholarships. GPC has had seven JKC scholarship recipients in the past nine years.
USG in its report said “Ugochukwu, a native of Nigeria, was sent to live with an uncle in America because of the political and economic strife in his country.
“He arrived in December 2009, and decided to enrol at Georgia Perimeter where he maintains a 3.9 GPA while taking extremely challenging courses.
“Ugochukwu has taken courses in organic chemistry and calculus along with courses in English, government and psychology. He plans to continue his education at the University of Georgia and eventually become a neurosurgeon.
“Because he is not a resident, Ugochukwu is not eligible for the HOPE scholarship and other resident scholarships. He relied solely on his uncle to finance his education at GPC.
“It was a huge burden on him,” Ugochukwu said of his uncle. “He has children of his own and when he paid my tuition, I could see the smile on his face but I could also see the anguish. I knew I could not afford to attend UGA and my uncle could not afford it either. The Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship makes it possible for me to continue my education.”
“This is a great accomplishment for one of our students,” Tricoli said adding that “With the help of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Ugochukwu now has the resources he will need to continue the work towards fulfilling his dreams. As selective as JCK is in awarding these scholarships, we are certainly pleased that they again found one of our students worthy.”
Ugochukwu, speaking about his experience said: “I arrived at the United States, December 2009, and started school spring of 2010. Coming from a country whose language and education system is different from the United States, I had to struggle to adapt quickly. I went from a student who struggled to hear what the professors were teaching to a student who was looked up to by other students for help. I even started an unofficial tutoring session for my fellow chemistry students. I believe in making a difference in the world and if at the end of the day I am asked what I think about life I would say, ‘Life is an opportunity to make a difference in the world, in your own little way.’
Ugochukwu’s biography, published by Jack Kent Cooke Foundation reads:
Profile: Chiemeka Ugochukwu came to America in 2009 to live with his uncle because of political and economic discord in his native land. Georgia Perimeter College was a perfect fit for the young Nigerian.
When he arrived on campus, he had no idea how he was going to pay for his education and work toward his lifelong dream of becoming a physician, returning to his homeland, and serving his fellow Nigerians.
The Scholarship will help Chiemeka achieve the first steps in his goal, and if hardwork and dedication mean anything at all, the young man will some day find his way into medical school.
Chiemeka was well-known on the GPC campus, well- liked, respected, and always willing to volunteer or tutor students who were having a tough time with courses he aced such as calculus and organic chemistry.
Inspiration: There have been numerous teachers and mentors who have been instrumental in Chiemeka’s success thus far.
His uncle, Christian Ike, taught Chiemeka “about life and made me aim high.”
Chiemeka’s chemistry professor, Anthony Ikaiddi, “was a wonderful teacher and allayed my fears of the future.” Also at GPC, English Professor, Rosemary Cox “sharpened my skills as a writer and believed in my ability.”
Finally, GPC Human Resources Director, Amanda Reddick “has also been of immense help to me.”
Aspiration: Chiemeka hopes some day to become a doctor. He will first seek a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Georgia in Athens.
Making a Difference: Chiemeka is well aware of the sacrifices that American service men and women are making each day.
Through the Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Project at GPC, Chiemeka was involved in a programme to write thousands of letters of appreciation to American soldiers and veterans.
Accolades: Chiemeka was an active member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honour Society on the GPC campus and was a regular on the college Dean’s List. He also was presented the GPC Award for Leadership, Service, and Dedication.
Interesting fact: Chiemeka is an accomplished actor, something he loves to do.