Jacob Dieu Amhol ’20: From Kakamu Refugee Camp to Ashesi

Ashesi_Amhol_bannerSeptember 11, 2016
Unlike many freshmen who choose to keep a low profile while they steadily immerse themselves into college, Jacob Amhol ’20 doesn’t have that luxury at Ashesi, even if he tried. Close to six and a half feet tall, he is easily the most visible person at any event, or in any crowd, on campus. His experiences, from leaving conflict in South Sudan and moving to Kenya as a refugee, and then being admitted into Ashesi as MasterCard Foundation Scholar, is no less remarkable.

“Living in a refugee camp can be a hard struggle,” he says. “After high school, your chances of moving forward are slim, even when you move out.” The Kakamu Refugee camp, where Jacob lived, held over 185,000 refugees, mostly migrants from the South Sudan civil war. Living there with his family, he always dreamt of an opportunity of a regular life.

After high school in 2013, he shuffled between the Ministry of Education in South Sudan and the Kakamu camp, job searching, and looking for an opportunity to attend university. While most of the applications fell through, he eventually found a job as teacher in a secondary school, teaching Agriculture and French at the camp.

In 2015, when he heard about Ashesi through Bridge2Rwanda, he was excited about the possibility of becoming a part of the community. “I read a lot of good things about Ashesi online,” he explained. “Seeing it was one of the top universities in Africa, I wanted to come here.” On his first attempt, however, Jacob was unable to get his application in before the deadline.

This year however, when the admissions season opened, he was prepared. He applied, went through his admissions interview, and got accepted into the Engineering program at Ashesi, under The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program. “After waiting for two years to get into a university, my prayers have been answered. It feels good.”

Working with partners like The MasterCard Foundation, Ashesi’s commitment to providing equal opportunity for young Africans remains unwavering. In line with our goal to increase diversity and collaboration on campus, Ashesi aims to grow its international student population to at least 30% of the student body. Together, Jacob and his new classmates represent Ashesi’s most diverse class yet, with students from eighteen different countries across Africa.

For Jacob, being at Ashesi is not a chance at a new life for just him, but for his family back home in Kakamu. “Being in Ashesi changes a lot for me,” he explains. “I hope to get my brothers out of the refugee camp, as well. As long as you can fend for yourself, you can move out. I want to give them that, because for me, I got out when I came here.”

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