Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

April 27, 2009

Student from Kenya defies odds to earn his bachelor’s degree

Goshen College commencement

Warm weather and sunshine, along with a little wind, met attendees of Goshen College’s 111th commencement ceremony Sunday afternoon.

For most, it was an event of great personal significance. For one, it was a triumph gained following a lifetime of challenges and toil.

Ramadhan Onyango Audy was born in Nairobi, Kenya, where he was raised by his aunt and uncle because his parents died in a car accident when he was very young. He was unable to attend school because he had no money for school fees and no proper uniform, so he was kept at home, where he was made to do chores and was beaten daily.

At 12, he ran away from home and began living on the street, eventually ending up in a children’s home thanks to the help of a lady Audy asked for a french fry. Through the home he was able to take some schooling before things began to fall through there. One of his teachers then helped him move again, this time to an orphanage run by Fauzia Muthoni Hassan, whom Audy calls “Mama Fauzia.”

By the time Audy reached his junior year of high school, a pediatrician from Michigan contacted the orphanage looking for two children to sponsor. He and a girl he knew there were chosen by the woman, Dr. Jean Turkish.

“I just kind of got motivated, and eventually God blessed me and I got my passport and I got my visa and I was ready to come here,” Audy said.

Turkish co-signed for loans for him until his senior year at Goshen College. Around that time, she suffered a stroke, and mounting medical bills caused her to file bankruptcy for her business. In order to come up with the money he needed to fund the rest of his schooling, he began working at the university’s physical plant, sometimes sleeping as little as three or four hours each night. Still, limited to 20 hours a week he could work, he needed more help.

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