Mike Tertsea, an only child, hadn’t seen his mum, Felicia
Ikpum, 56, since he left Nigeria to study at The John Carroll School in
Bel Air, four years ago. Felicia didn’t even recognize him when she met
him at the airport, last Friday.
During the school’s baccalaureate ceremony on
Wednesday, Mike, a basketball player, was surprised to learn that the
whole senior class, joined by faculty members, came together to make it
possible for his mother to make the trip from Benue State, Nigeria, to
see him graduate from high school.
“I was really, really
surprised. It is really a blessing and I thank everyone for coming here.
It was a tough drive for her. She said at one point, she felt like
giving up. It was also her first time on an airplane, and for a while,
she couldn’t recognize me and couldn’t believe it was her son,” Mike
Principal Madelyn Ball said one student had asked, “Is
Mike’s mom coming to graduation?” “Everyone was concerned because, you
see, Mike has not been home for four years,” Ball said. She then
explained how the senior class was able to raise $1,763.
and his mother got a standing ovation as they were asked to come up on
the stage, where they each thanked the senior class for bringing them
together. Mike said he is an only child and his mother is his only
immediate relative. Growing up in the Benue area did mean real
challenges, he said. .
Kishan Patel, student government
president, said: “It was a joy to do this. Mike sometimes went to bed
hungry, and now you see this kid going to Division I with a basketball
scholarship – wow, this is what it’s all about.” Mike, 6-foot, 10-inch
tall, plans to attend the University of Rhode Island.