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From Refugee to Ensign College Student

April 2024

Wisdom Chigbu, an Ensign College student, smiling in a suit and tie. While growing up in Nigeria, Wisdom Chigbu learned the importance of an education. He says, “As Nigerians, we try to get as much education as possible. In order for me to be qualified for a job or to function in society, I need education. Education is paramount.” Chigbu knew that receiving an education would open many opportunities to him and also help him to grow and develop.

After serving a mission for the Church in the Ivory Coast, he started his college career in Ukraine. In order to help fund Chigbu’s education, his parents sold almost everything they had. After a year in Ukraine, Chigbu became a refugee when the war with Russia broke out. He explains, “I had to travel for five days to Poland without any food or water. The only thing I had to eat was snow. When I arrived, I wasn’t able to get inside Poland at first because I wasn’t Ukrainian. They eventually let me in after I stood outside for 20 hours in the freezing cold.”

Once in Poland, Chigbu, now homeless, searched for a place to rest. Eventually, he met some Church members who let him into their home and helped him. While Chigbu stayed with these members, they told him about opportunities for schooling in the United States, specifically at Ensign College. After receiving some aid to fund his schooling, Chigbu attended the BYU Learning Center in Provo, Utah, for two semesters to work on his English. Then he was on his way to Ensign College.

Despite the incredible challenges that Chigbu overcame to attend Ensign College, he continues to see the positive in every situation.

Chigbu is currently working on his associate’s degree in computer science, and he loves the feeling he gets on campus. He says, “One of my favorite things about Ensign is that every day you get to feel the Spirit. Whenever I come to school, I feel the same Spirit that I do in church. Ensign College is a great learning environment.”

He also loves the community of international students who help him to feel at home at Ensign. Chigbu was offered the M. Russell Ballard Service and Leadership Scholarship during his second semester. He is grateful for the scholarship, which has allowed him to finance his education. Because he is an international student, he is lim­ited to working 19 hours a week, which makes affording rent, food, and tuition difficult.

To those who donate to Ensign, Chigbu wishes to say thank you. He explains, “You are like an angel in human form. I don’t know how a student like me would ever be able to get an education without someone like you to help me.” He continues, “I always wish that God may continue to bless you so that you will never lack. And I hope that once I am done with school and start making money, I will be able to contribute also.”

Chigbu is thankful for the opportunity to work at and attend Ensign College. This is only a possibility because of generous donations. After graduating with his associate’s degree next year, Chigbu hopes to work for the Church, then return to Ensign to earn his bachelor’s degree.

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