When I first met Glory Aganze in 2011, he was a shy soon-to-be 9th grader who who was still struggling to find his voice and adjust to life in the United States. He soon managed to carve out a community for himself on the soccer field, and he quickly established himself as one of the highest fliers in Digital Harbor's ESOL program.
I didn't know it at the time, but Glory's initial success proved to be a harbinger of things to come. Over the next seven years, Glory continued to grow in ways that I (and probably he) never could have imagined.
He became a starting defender and eventually a starting goalkeeper on the Varsity soccer team. He wrote and eventually shared his migration narrative with diverse arrays of educators, philanthropists, and change-agents in Baltimore City. He accelerated through his high school ESOL curriculum, eventually exiting ESOL and earning placement in both AP English Language and Composition and AP English Literature and Composition. This success manifested itself in other ways too. Glory became involved in BICO (Baltimore Inner City Outings) and earned his SCUBA certification. He began volunteering and working with elementary and middle school students as part of the Digital Harbor Foundation's Technology Center, and he would often work with other refugee and immigrant students as a coach and mentor through his participation in Soccer Without Borders.
Glory's academic, athletic, and extracurricular successes ultimately led him to the University of Maryland as a recipient of the prestigious Incentive Award, a full tuition scholarship awarded to top students in Baltimore City, Prince George's County, and DCPS. Glory arrived on campus in College Park eager to make an immediate impact, but he was far from his family. His mother moved from Baltimore to Iowa City, and his older brother was finishing college in Pennsylvania. He sought to build a new "family" at UMD. He studied business and organizational management, joined the club soccer team and a Christian students group, and worked an on-campus job. He even volunteered to speak with and mentor immigrant and refugee students at my new school, the International High School at Langley Park.
Glory's mother recently fell ill in Iowa, and Glory took a leave of absence from his studies in order to care for her. He did so without formally withdrawing for the semester, as he thought he could juggle his familiar responsibilities with his academic ones. Unfortunately, his GPA dropped below the threshold needed to maintain his scholarship, and Glory now finds himself in a bit of a bind.
He will ultimately transfer schools to be closer to his family in Iowa, but in the meantime, he is hoping to bolster his resume with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. After leaving his home in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Glory lived for three years in Uganda before ultimately receiving a refugee visa to come to the United States. He was recently offered a position that would enable him to return to Uganda for six months to serve as a coach, mentor, and teacher to refugee youth in Kampala through Soccer Without Borders - Uganda (see more here!)
This, of course, comes with some challenges. These include:
- Flights. Glory will need to pay for his roundtrip ticket to Uganda. We hope to raise $2000 to pay for a round trip flight from Canada to Uganda.
- Living expenses. We hope to raise ~$3000 to cover living expenses, meals, transport, and other miscellaneous costs (health care, etc.) on the ground in Kampala.
For all of you who know Glory and the tremendous impact he has had on all of us who have worked with him, please share this far and wide within your networks. He truly is an amazing young man, and I am excited by the prospect of him having this opportunity and getting himself back on track to earn his college degree!
Please don't hesitate to email me if you have additional questions!
- Biren Rai
- Mohit Mehan
- Andrew Coy
- Ava Silverstein
- Murray Serether