Help Me Honor My Mother

I dropped out of University in 2018, three years after being enrolled. Sudden and unaware, but this decision will change my life irreversibly.

This story began with my mother in 1994, five years before I was born. My mother is passionate about education and wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a Nurse. However, the birth of my brother, Williams, during her preparation to study medicine at the University disrupted her dream. I will also follow in a short time.
She had a growing family to support so she willingly sacrificed her dreams at the altar of family but committed to ensuring her sons would attain heights she didn’t. She later earned a Certificate in teaching and became a primary school teacher and full-time Mom until her Marriage began to decline in 2007 when I was 8 years old. By 2008, my parents separated! Three young boys are torn between two parents with pending divorce litigation, what will life look like for the family she so desired?

Along with my older brother, I moved in to live with my Dad. This episode of my life is a story unto itself. Even though no one was more affected by this separation than my Mom, whose name had been smeared in lies and years invested in the family was gone, my mother refused to be defined by her circumstance. In 2007 at 41, she went back to school to pursue a university education, graduating at 45 with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Kinetics. She took authorship of her story and framed the narrative. Yet still, with an insatiable passion for education, she decided to pursue a Master’s degree as a new goal. Unfortunately, due to the coincidence of my brother and I enrolling in college, she once again made the huge sacrifice not to pursue her dreams and support us.

After three years as a student at the University of Calabar, I decided to drop out of college. The experience had become unrewarding, it was taking more than it promised in return, It was a difficult decision. While I was at peace, I could not bear the thought of hurting my mother after all of her sacrifices. Surprisingly when I built the courage to inform her, she looked at me boldly and without mincing words, she said “James, I support your decision as long as you are happy and you can do what you love.” Stunned, and without words, I watched my mother one more time as she put the well-being of her child above her desire. 

Three years later, today, May 15, 2021, I officially graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Entrepreneurship from the Watson Institute at Lynn University in Florida. This milestone is significant because of the journey and challenges that prepared me to arrive at it. As I reflect on the sacrifices my Mother -- Mary Okina --  made so I could have a chance at life, I am inspired to pay it forward.

In honor of my Mom, I want to create the opportunity for other young kids to hopefully reach this milestone too. Starting September 2021, I am sending 50 Children back to school in Nigeria, courtesy of my Organization, Street Priests  Inc. The initiative is a fund in her name. I am raising an initial amount of $9,500 to enroll them in school for about a year. Nigeria still has the largest population of out-of-school children in the world. I want to help address that challenge, As you congratulate me today, your contribution would mean more to me and to the children who will benefit from this initiative. In my eyes, this is how I validate my degree. Please help me fulfill this dream!

Thank you

Organizer and beneficiary

James Okina
Boca Raton, FL
Jonathan Kibe

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