Persistence Pays Off

Ebuka’s story is somewhat unusual. He came to the United States from Nigeria with his mother and sisters. Initially, he lived Los Angeles and later he moved to the Bay Area to assist his aunt in caring for her children, while he attended a better high school. After he graduated, at seventeen, his aunt informed him that he could not attend college because she needed him to continue to support her child care needs.  He thought this was unfair so he left feeling betrayed and abandoned. He had nowhere to go, until a fellow Nigerian he met during his stay at his aunt’s house, helped him find temporary shelter in a residential program for youth.  His friend had directed him to Our House, EOCP’s transitional housing program for youth, on his eighteenth birthday.

Ebuka’s major issue was staying positive. He developed a real bond with his Case Manager and saw her as the role model upon which he could build future success. While he was bright, he struggled with cultural differences and feeling as though he had failed his family and himself because he was not attending college. His Case Manager helped him to maintain his focus on the future.  She showed him how he could support himself through working part-time and attain an education by completing junior college. He was often excluded by the other young people in the program because they viewed him as a nerdy, un-cool immigrant.  His commitment to achievement paid off as much as his willingness to take direction. During his stay at Our House, he always worked and attended school.

Before he completed Our House he graduated from Samuel Merritt Junior College with honors in sociology.  He was accepted into six colleges, including five UC programs. Not surprisingly, he chose UC Berkeley.  He exited Our House to an affordable rental near the campus. He had savings and a job that sustained him through his undergraduate education. He graduated in 2010 and moved into a full time position as a claims examiner at the insurance company where he had held a part time position for years.  He is now studying to take the GRE and applying to graduate school. Ebuka continues to call his Case Manager on holidays and for occasional advice.