A native of Nigeria, Habeeb Awolumate left his family and homeland to chart a new course for his future. "For me, going to college was never really a decision. It was always in the plan, and I knew that coming to the United States to study computer science was my goal," he said.
With unwavering support from his father, Awolumate knew he would succeed.
"My dad would always say,' Just go to school, and it will be easier that way,' knowing that it would help me and my siblings not have the same struggles he and my mother had," said Awolumate.
The need to earn an income and support a growing family didn't allow his parents the opportunity to continue their education; however, they made it a priority to help their children with what was not available to them.
Awolumate first landed on the east coast, intending to start college. But when his living arrangements fell through while faced with limited finances, Habeeb moved to Illinois to stay with an acquaintance of his father and discovered a newfound opportunity to begin his studies at Elgin Community College. "At first, it was very hard because being alone is hard. You have to make your own connections and adapt to a new country and culture," said Awolumate.
Now living on his own and taking classes, Awolumate works nearly full-time to support himself. Habeeb was grateful to receive a scholarship through the ECC Foundation, which he learned about as a member of the Black Student Achievers club. With this financial assistance, Awolumate has more time and energy to focus on his ultimate goal — earning a computer science degree.
"I have always been interested in computers, and this field is full of opportunities," he said. "I know if I am financially stable, I can also help my siblings and parents." After the fall 2022 semester, Awolumate will have one more class to earn his Associate in Science degree before transferring to Northern Illinois University to pursue his bachelor's degree. He will be well on his way to making his dreams a reality.
To read more first-gen stories from this issue, visit the ECC IMPACT webpage.