An Incredible Journey Brought Ali From Homelessness In Nigeria To College In The US
"I don't know how I made it," Ali Adekunle says, with the hint of an incredulous smile.
From what we've seen, Ali is smiling a lot these days. And with good reason! With the support of a family he cares for and the generosity of social media connections, Ali will be attending college in the fall at Fitchburg State. He plans to study nursing.
It would have been hard for Ali to imagine his current life and academic ambitions just five years ago. That's when he witnessed his family's farm in Nigeria getting burned to the ground by a terrorist group—and when he lost his father, mother, and two sisters to the fire and chaos. Forced to flee his home, Ali crossed a desert to find safety, eventually ending up in a couple refugee camps. Ali was fortunate to connect with the United Nations not too long after that, and with the UN's help, he found himself en route to the United States and to a new life.
Ali made some friends when school started, including the daughter of the school's Vice Principal, Chris Gelinas. The more time he spent with her family, the closer the whole group got.
"The next thing you know," Chris recalls, "he was calling me dad. He was calling my wife mom."
With the support of the Gelinas family and increased confidence in his life in America, Ali has big plans for pursuing advanced studies—and his reasons are personal.
"You can have money, and everything. They may take it away," Ali says. "But education—it's something that can live with you forever."