Thomas Nelson Student Earns Prestigious Valley Proteins Fellowship, Gets Selected for Delegation to China

Thomas Nelson Community College student Kingdom Oguibe has been  selected as part of the fourth class of the Valley Proteins Fellows Program, administered by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.

Out of the more than 400,000 students Virginia’s Community Colleges serve across the state, only 10 are selected for the Valley Proteins Fellows Program. The approximate value of the scholarship, accompanied with professional development, travel and cultural opportunities, is $15,000. “I feel very honored in being awarded the scholarship because it was highly competitive. I am appreciative and most grateful for the award,” said Oguibe.

The core mission of the Valley Proteins Fellows Program is to help promising, second-year students at VCCS colleges pursue their academic goals and strengthen their leadership skills. In addition to receiving full tuition, book expenses and fees, the Fellows participate in a unique curriculum of intellectual and cultural activities. The Fellows also volunteer 80 hours of community service during the academic year to hone their leadership abilities and develop a strong foundation for future success.

Oguibe will satisfy his volunteerism requirement at Riverside Hospital serving as a patient advisor helping patients complete an important survey about their care and experience at the facility. He began his association with Riverside volunteering as a high school junior to gain experience with which to build a resume. The Valley Proteins Fellowship is allowing him to expand his role at the healthcare facility.

As part of the Fellows program, the science major has also been chosen to participate in the 2014 International Youth Organization Forum and Beijing Sister City Youth Camp. The delegation of students is slated to visit China Oct. 20-26 to engage with others from around the world in an array of interactive, themed sessions and group discussions. Participants will also visit several Chinese landmarks such as the Great Wall during the weeklong experience.

A 2013 Menchville High School graduate, Oguibe is driven by a unique circumstance. He lives in Newport News while his parents, Samuel and Goodluck Oguibe, and his three sisters live in their native Umuahia, the capital city of Abia State in southeastern Nigeria. Having lived several years in Hampton Roads, his parents went back to Nigeria so their children could learn about the country first-hand. They allowed Oguibe to return to Hampton Roads the summer after he completed 10th grade.

“I have to succeed. The community looks up to me. The village looks up to me. If I succeed, I can help them out…build roads…build hospitals. If I don’t, it’ll just be a mockery. So I have a lot of expectations both from my parents and my community. My goal is to become a medical doctor and move back to Nigeria to help the people out,” he said.

At 19, Oguibe has a part-time job at a grocery store and works 16 to 20 hours a week as work-study student in Thomas Nelson’s TRiO program office. He spends the majority of his remaining time studying. “When I get off from work at 11 p.m., since I don’t have Wi-Fi at my house, I will go to like McDonald’s or any area that has Wi-Fi to finish my work. Then, I come home and study until like 1:30 a.m.,” he said, pointing out that he tries to read a book a day inspired by the story of renowned American neurosurgeon Benjamin Carson.

“They say, ‘Excellence is not a singular act but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.’ I want to get better … I just want to become more knowledgeable,” he added.

Despite a hectic schedule, Oguibe finds time to serve as a Student Government Association senator and regularly attends Liberty Baptist Church. He thanked TRiO for helping him hone the time management and budgeting skills necessary to successfully navigate. He refers to the TRiO team – Director Virginia Keithley, JoAnn Barbour and Valerie Jones-Williams – as his “three angels or American moms” for their care in looking out for him. He also expressed appreciation to personnel in the College’s Writing Center for their contribution to his Thomas Nelson experience.

He thanked Thomas Nelson’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement Cynthia Callaway and Virginia Foundation for Community College Education’s Director of Development & Scholarships Anne McCaffrey for their roles in making the Valley Proteins Fellowship opportunity possible.

The Fellows program is made possible through the generous donation of Valley Proteins, Inc., a longtime supporter of the Virginia Community College mission. The Winchester-based company has been in the rendering business for more than 60 years and currently operates 14 plants in seven states.
“Congratulations to these students who earned some of our most competitive scholarships,” said VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois. “These scholars are talented, motivated and community-focused. These men and women will be taking the reins of leadership and leaving their mark on the world and we’re delighted to work with them.”