News / Africa

Nigerian Student Athlete Finds Success in US

Sadiq Abubakar, originally from Nigeria, came to study at Episcopal High School outside Washington, DC on a special exchange program
Sadiq Abubakar, originally from Nigeria, came to study at Episcopal High School outside Washington, DC on a special exchange program

Multimedia

Jeff Swicord

Exchange programs that give American high school students the opportunity to study for a year in another country are quite common.  But it is rare to find American high schools that have the resources to bring international students to the U.S. on full, multi-year scholarships based on need.

Episcopal High School outside Washington D.C. is an exception. During the past several years, the private boarding school has brought a number of students from African countries to study there with great success. The African students have succeeded in the classroom and on the playing field.

High school basketball is often full of thrills. This evening, Episcopal High School is hosting Saint Albans. Both are private schools in the Washington D.C. area.  But not all of the players in this game are American. Two are from Africa.

Jim Fitzpatrick has been the basketball coach and associate director of admissions at Episcopal High School for the past six years.

“My goal at the time six years ago was to open doors a little bit.  Not only for the school, but for student athletes," explained Fitzpatrick.  "And I was very fortunate that I was presented with the opportunity to find some young men from Africa.”

Sadiq Abubakar, a senior, is one of them.  Raised in a small village in Northern Nigeria, Sadiq has known few luxuries in life.  Although he is a good basketball player and a hard working student, getting a high quality education was just a dream.  Then, he met a recruiter who told him about Episcopal.  And the process began to bring him to the U.S. to attend school.

“I never thought it was going to happen actually, because I always believed that in Nigeria you have to know people, to get such opportunities,” said Abubakar.

Coach Fitzpatrick says having international kids at the school has been a win-win situation.  For Episcopal, a boarding school with a strong academic reputation, it not only means getting good athletes, but getting kids who bring cultural diversity to campus life.  For Sadiq, it is the opportunity to get the kind of education he could not afford in Nigeria, and the experience of living in another country.

"Every day I feel thankful to god that I got a chance to come to a place like this," added Abubakar.  "Because I just know that I love Nigeria.  Nigeria is where I grew up with my family.  But coming to a place where I do not have to pay school fees, I just have to keep my head straight and work hard, study hard, and I get virtually everything that I need, it builds me to be successful. "

Coach Fitzpatrick says Abubakar has worked hard for his success.

“I am proud to say he is a 93-average student on a 100-point scale here, which is quite impressive," said Fitzpatrick.  "He is constantly on what we call our high-list, which is our honor role here.”

Abubakar says when he first came to Episcopal, basketball was foremost in his mind.  He had a dream of one day playing in the NBA.  Soon, he learned academics were the better way to ensure success in life.  

"I am fortunate enough to work around, to have people that are much older than myself, who have played professionally, who have gone to school.  And every day all they tell me without academics, basketball is not going to take me anywhere," said Abubakar.

Several big-name basketball universities have expressed interest in Sadiq.  But he prefers smaller schools that have more of an academic focus.  Although he has not accepted yet, Hamilton College, a small liberal arts school, has offered him a scholarship.

“My coach always told me that if I could get my grades right all the time, behave myself and play basketball, that I would be fine," recalled Abubakar.  "It worked out exactly the way he said.  My grades are OK and I got accepted to college.”

Coach Fitzpatrick says taking these kids to the next level was always part of his motivation for bringing them to Episcopal.

“Part of bringing these students over here from Africa is, you cannot just think about high school," noted Fitzpatrick.  "We also want to say, 'how can we get these kids to universities?'"

Episcopal will go on to win their conference championship for the season.  Sadiq is excited about what the future will bring.  He says, one day, with college degree in hand, he may return to Nigeria.  And in some way help the people of his country realize their dreams.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid