South Sudanese graduate from University of Calgary

 

Calgary, Alberta, Canada - It is graduation season, and two South Sudanese were among hundreds of students who graduated last Tuesday at the University of Calgary. Ariik Chol Ariik graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree with double major in Political Science and International Development Studies. Ariik, who is the President of Lost Boys’ and Girls’ Association of South Sudan in Calgary, was thrilled for reaching one of the important milestones in his life.

“I feel very much excited for the achievement,” he said. “It gives me more encouragement to continue to the next levels.”

Ariik grew up dodging bombs during the 21 years of war in the Southern Sudan.

“I grew up to teenage years in the war torn Southern Sudan, and I also started my school under tree,” he said. “I never thought of reaching such a level one day.”

But determination and persistence were parts of what brought him to this level. Ariik left the Southern Sudan in the 1990s for Kakuma Refugees Camp in Kenya where he finished elementary and secondary schools. He later came to Canada with the help of relatives and Calgary Catholic Immigration Society.

“I want others to always aim higher,” he said. “I want my fellow lost boys and girls and south Sudanese in general whether at home or in the diaspora to focus always on their education because our people in the past did not have these opportunities.”

In addition to Ariik, Kueth Diew, popularly known as PK, graduated with a Master of Disability and Community Studies.

An important day comes and passes but it sticks in memory for what constitutes it. Ariik’s graduation day was memorable because of relatives and friends who came to share it with him. But one unexpected announcement would make the day even more memorable. “It was not just ordinary graduation but extraordinary because the Governor General of Canada, the Representative of the Queen of Canada was with us, receiving his Honorary Doctorate (PhD) from the University of Calgary,” he said. “We walk on the red carpet, and every student was asking what was going on, but eventually, the Chancellor announced it that there is a big man with us.”

 

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Ariik with friends who came to celebrate his milestone with him and made it memorable.

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Ariik poses for a picture with stadium at the background

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Ariik with Naheed Nenshi, Mayor of the City of Calgary, one of those who made his graduation day memorable.


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