Nigerian women among UMES' spring 2014 graduates
ANNE, MD. – (May 20, 2014) – The University of Maryland
Eastern Shore is a multi-cultural institution that during the just-completed
academic year drew students from three dozen nations.
Among them is Nigeria, which in 2010 sent a
contingent of young people from its Delta State to study at Maryland’s
historically black land-grant institution.
Two members of that contingent – Rosemary
Adurumokumo of Kokodiagbene and Jennifer Ossai of Kwale – received their
undergraduate degrees during UMES' recent spring 2014 commencement.
“It was a long journey,” Ossai said. “Getting a
college degree in this country is a stepping stone for other things that I want
to accomplish in my life.”
Adurumokumo said “it has been a great opportunity to
come here for a degree. My challenges were a good experience.”
The women grew up in a progressive region of the western
African nation where both genders are encouraged to get an education. Ossai’s
father is a college graduate and two siblings are attending college while Adurumokumo’s
father and three of her siblings hold college degrees.
Far to the north of their respective home towns is a
different story, where conservative Muslims believe only men should attend
school. Islamist terrorists triggered international outrage in mid-April when
they boldly kidnapped over 200 pre-adolescent girls from a school in Chibok in
The two UMES graduates have tried to keep abreast of
news back home by monitoring Internet reports and in exchanges with family and
friends on social media sites.
“I feel so sad when I think about it,” Adurumokumo
said, “… like it happened to me.”
Ossai thinks about the girls’ parents. “I don’t know
how they survive – how they cope.”
Ossai and Adurumokumo say they are grateful to be
from the southern region of Nigeria where Christianity and its tenets guide
life and culture.
Adjusting to a new life and culture in America four
years ago proved challenging, but rewarding nonetheless, the women agree.
“It was my first time away from my family,” said Ossai,
who earned a degree in biology, “but I found that I could be responsible for
Ossai and Adurumokumo arrived in Princess Anne the
first week in February 2010 – in the midst of one of the snowiest winters in
recent memory. Neither had seen snow before.
“It was so cold,” Ossai said, adding “I was told,
but my preparation was not what I expected.”
Adurumokumo had some sense of the UMES campus. Her
family held a dinner party for former UMES President Thelma Thompson and Dr.
Emmanuel Acquah, who traveled to Africa to promote the university’s interest in
attracting international students.
En route to campus, someone handed Adurumokumo an
aerial map, which gave her the impression the campus was far larger than it is.
Adurumokumo, who majored in accounting, found the
campus community welcoming but some people she encountered seemed unsure of
what to make of international students.
“It’s a big challenge for international students to
speak out,” Adurumokumo said. “It’s a great thing to learn different cultures
Ossai said once she got past the initial feeling of
being far from home, UMES became a comfortable fit.
“The university didn’t make you feel out of place,’
Ossai said, adding that professors showed her the kind of personal attention that
she believes helped her assimilate into American college campus life.
And the reverse also was true, according Adurumokumo.
She and two friends, Edith Igere and Rosemary Bubor, jumped at the chance to
assist the university’s food service in preparing special dishes like banga
soup and jollof rice during the summer months when international students
remained on campus.
“It was great fun to be able to do that,”
Both women are not finished pursuing an education. Each
would like to go on to graduate school.Adurumokumo
says she would eventually like to earn her Certified Public Accountant
director, Office of Public Relations, (410)