Father and son duo graduates together
Francis Fagunleka was in search of opportunity and a good education for his children when he moved to South Florida from Nigeria around six years ago.
“I was a business man in my home country,” he said. “However, I knew in order to really feel accomplished in life and succeed I needed a degree.”
Francis was further motivated after his son, Samson Fagunleka, began at Broward College. He soon followed, stepping foot in a classroom for the first time since high school in 1985. Fast forward to May 9 when he walked the stage at BB&T Center alongside his son. The two each graduate with Associate of Arts degrees.
“We supported each other to this point,” an emotional Samson Fagunleka said, days before the commencement ceremony.
Francis was initially nervous about taking classes, but sharing the experience with Samson eased the transition. They even took a handful of courses together including chemistry, sociology, and anatomy. When he started, Francis found simple math a challenge. He studied many nights, sometimes up until 3 a.m. Today, he is a statistics tutor at the College.
His son had his own obstacles. Samson says he only spoke “pigeon English” early on, so the language barrier and testing style were initial difficulties for the now 21-year-old. He spent hours in the library and credits that for helping him assimilate with other students.
“Being there so [often] made me more comfortable with my surroundings and helped me come out of my shell a bit,” his son said.
Samson has plans to pursue nursing because he knows there is a high demand for trained medical professionals. Francis also remains driven to continue his academic aspirations with hopes of getting his bachelor’s and master’s with the dream of becoming a doctor. The father-son duo won’t be the last family members to graduate from Broward College; Francis’s daughter Clare is currently finishing up courses with the College’s dual enrollment program.
Graduation day will be especially meaningful for Francis, who recently returned to Nigeria to bring his parents to the states so they could witness graduation in person. It will be the first time his father, who is in his early 90s, and mother, who is in her late 70s; have come to the United States.
“This is what they have been praying for,” Francis said. “And they didn’t want to miss it.”