Speaker recalls mother's wise words

Friday, May 11, 2018
Chinedu Okonkwo speaks at this morning’s commencement ceremonies at McCook Community College.
Lorri Sughroue/McCook Gazette

McCOOK, Neb. — Nigerian native Chinedu Okonkwo, selected as student speaker for McCook Community College’s commencement ceremonies today, appropriately enough, quoted his mother two days before Mother’s Day.

“My mother always says to me, that son, “Ije uwa adiro ezi” (I bet your mother says that once in a while to you). ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a step.’

She would quote Maya Angelo saying, ‘son if you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right.”

“I slept on the floor for most of my life. There were no windows, no mosquito nets in my house — but I always had plenty to eat. I know that because anytime I ask for a second plate my mom would say no you’ve already had enough.

“I got to the United States with five dollars, a pair of jeans, two shirts, and a backpack. Don’t feel sorry for me because my story got better. Coming to the states was a blessing and a breakthrough for me and my family.

“But you know what’s the greater blessing? Becoming part of the family of McCook Community College.”

“I traveled 10,000 miles to a place where I knew nobody; all I had was hope (pause//) but you guys gave me more than just hope. You gave me love and I never felt lonely for a minute.

“To the baseball team, I will never forget the time we spent, you guys been so supportive, like the snow ball fight between baseball, basketball and volleyball, those are great moments that would always be remembered. Softball and volleyball, you guys are amazing, the best cheer leading groups in America. There will be no MCC without you guys, we love you all.

“The rodeo team — I just really think you dress strange — for those great guys, they always have that big boots and belt that always get me confused but fit them just right. The golf team, MCC is proud of you for making nationals, go win it all. And not to forget, our great non-student athlete of McCook community college is being amazing staying this two years with you guys. Great time we all had together.

“Finally, I would love to conclude my speech talking about the friendly and important people of McCook Community, I have never felt more at home. You guys are amazing, coming out to support us, adoptive athlete’s programs, fans, and the general public. Your kindness is warming and welcoming. You all accept us as one of yours and there is no greater love than that.

You have blessed every student’s life that attended MCC. In one way or the other, you guys have changed the story of a young African kid who came from nothing and you have made him something. The little things you do here, the little things we do as a community, as a family, friends, guardian, those little things goes a long way to bless generations to come, and on behalf of my fellow students we say thank you. You would never be forgotten. “I came here to play basketball, but I have been given more than just basketball. I have been given an education, I have been given an opportunity. I have been made a better son, a better brother, a better friend, and most importantly a family member. And who know maybe in a few years a better husband.

“I would conclude with an advice for us. ‘Go where you are celebrated, go where you are met with warmth, love and support, go where relationships aren’t conditional.’ 

“Thank you, McCook Community College, thank you people of McCook.”

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