Like most parents, Steve and Franca Okolo wanted only the best college education for their children. And they found it — 6,000 miles away from their home in Lagos, Nigeria.
Four of their six children — Ugochukwu ’10, Francess ’10, Ekene ’11 and Nneoma ’13 — currently attend St. Edward’s University. While it’s difficult having their family on two continents, they know the long-term gains make up for the short-term separation.
“We wanted our children to be educated in the United States,” says Steve, who also earned a U.S. degree before returning to Lagos as a doctor of Geology. “We have family members in Texas, so we know the reputation of St. Edward’s and the quality education our children are receiving.”
And the Okolo siblings are taking advantage of the many opportunities on campus. Ugochukwu and Ekene are both Biochemistry majors. Francess studies International Business and Economics, and Nneoma is majoring in Accounting. They are also active in their residence hall communities and have been involved in the International Student Organization and the Students of African Heritage Association.
The most rewarding part of attending St. Edward’s “is its small size and the student-teacher ratio where we have the ability to relate with our professors,” says Ekene, who hopes to attend medical school. “I know I can do so many things with my degree.”
Being so far from home is sometimes challenging, but the siblings have made friends and connections with the university’s growing international community. “It’s great having students from other countries here,” Ugochukwu says. “It makes life more comfortable.”
“It isn’t always easy for us, but we know what we are here for,” says Nneoma. “We have each other to help face the challenges.” And that’s the best antidote to homesickness, says Francess — “just being with each other.”
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