Colleges' graduations go global
May 12, 2001
By Loretta Fulton
Reporter-News Staff Writer
As soon as Jeff Ng flips his tassel to the right side of
his mortar board today, his mom will know he's a college
graduate, even if she didn't understand a word of the
Ng's mother, Oman, is one of a number of parents of
international students in town this weekend to attend
graduation ceremonies at Abilene Christian, McMurry and
Ng and his mother are natives of Macau, in southeastern
China. Although Ng, an accounting and finance major at ACU,
is proficient in English, his mother never needed to learn a
second language. But not even a language barrier and a
20-hour trip could keep her from watching her son receive
"She's been waiting for this day," Ng said.
ACU is graduating 22 international students, but not all
will have parents in attendance for today's ceremony.
Michael Obhudo, an ACU student from Kenya, won't have any
family members watching him graduate, but he plans to go
home later in the summer before returning to the United
States to attend graduate school. Obhudo explained the
travel is too expensive.
A fellow ACU student, Suzanne Dickenson of Jamaica, won't
have her parents here, but an older brother made the trip to
watch her receive a master's degree in school
"I wanted him to come and experience the whole thing,"
A couple of international students at McMurry University
will have their proud parents in the audience when they get
their diplomas. The parents of Anya Malyuta from Ukraine and
Andrew Ottaro from Kenya are both in town for the
Malyuta attended high school in New Mexico under the
sponsorship of a missionary couple she met in Ukraine in
1995. She visited her parents in Ukraine last Christmas, but
before that she hadn't seen them in two years. She wanted
them here for graduation so badly she worked three jobs last
year to help pay their way.
"That was my dream to get them here for graduation," she
For one Hardin-Simmons student, the roles are reversed.
Jeanne Jester got back to Abilene last week after spending
the school year in South Africa. Her parents only have to
drive from Waco to attend their daughter's graduation.
Jester, a social work major, did her field placement work
at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, which has
a cooperative agreement with Hardin-Simmons.
Getting parents of international students in town for
graduation is not always easy, said Ellen Presley,
international student counselor and adviser at Abilene
Sometimes the expense is prohibitive and the parents may
have trouble getting visas. Presley frequently sends letters
to the American consulate in countries that are reluctant to
issue travel visas. Most of the time, she is successful.
ACU also hosts a spring banquet for international
students and a reception and tea the day before graduation
so parents can attend.
Having parents in town for graduation is a double treat
for international students, who in many instances don't go
home for four years. For ACU's Jeff Ng, having mom around
for a few days brought several blessings.
"She's cooking for me every day," he said. "It's nice to
taste home food."
Contact learning writer Loretta Fulton at 676-6778 or
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