Tai Ekundayo - “My journey to FMCC”

Tai Ekundayo

Tai is a mature student studying Radiology at Fulton Montgomery Community College in the US.  He’s travelled from Nigeria via the UK to find himself in the US. His story is moving and inspirational.

My name is Taiwo.  Everyone calls me Tai, but my family and friends who know me from way back call me by the nickname that my adorable twin sister gave me when we were growing up back home in Nigeria.  Maybe I’ll tell you about her someday, but I can tell you for sure that she is one of the reasons I came to FMCC!  Nigerian names have meanings and mine is no exception.  Taiwo is a name given to the twin who is born first, and it literally means “taste the world”.   I’m from the Yorùbá tribe of Nigeria and my ancestors believed that the second twin, who is considered the older, sent out the first twin to see what life would be like in the world. It’s only a myth but I find it so funny because it defies every logical and scientific rationale.

Life as a Mature Student

I am what is generally referred to in America as a non-traditional student because I fall into the category of an older student who has a dependant, is working part-time, and paying my own tuition.  Going back to college, after graduating with a Bachelors in Computer Science over 20 years ago, was something I never contemplated would happen to me. When I decided to make the move from London to Johnstown, NY, I was both scared and excited at the same time.  I would ask myself a million times if this was a smart move? Would I be able to cope or even fit in?  Would I remember stuff and be able to pass exams?... On getting here, I was pleasantly surprised by how well I was received; everyone has been great, I am coping well and making good grades too (thank God). People would ask me why I chose to come here after living in a metropolitan city like London for over 12 years and my usual response would be, “it’s a long story”.

tai-with-heather1

“…everyone has been great …”

My Family’s Influence

Let me trace my journey to FMCC with you. I was born in Lagos and raised within a large family of 13.  My dad, who was an only child, would tell us that we were the brothers and sisters he never had when we asked him why he had so many children.  Growing up as a little boy in the less crowded, serene, and lovely Lagos of the 70s was fun and filled with great memories.  After my elementary school, my dad decided to send me (his first son) far away from the rest of the family so I could learn to become a man and be independent.  My mother was not happy and did not mince her words when she told him that an 11-year-old boy had no business being a man! She would laugh about that now.  Anyway, my dad had his way and I attended high school in Kaduna, a city that was a day’s journey away from home.  In the early days I was homesick a lot and then I got used to it.

My dad was right, I was determined to be an independent man, so when I finished high school I went back to Lagos and got admitted into the prestigious University of Lagos to study Computer Science.  Dad rewarded me by taking me and my mom on his first trip out of the country to visit Paris, London, and New York.  It was so exciting and I made up my mind I wanted to live in London because my twin sister was also living in London at the time.  Immediately after graduation I headed for London to get my post-graduate degree.  After completing my studies and working for about seven years, I went back to Nigeria to start my own computer firm.  I met my beautiful wife three years later, got married, and had our first child.  In the summer of 2003, my family and I relocated back to London because of my wife’s illness; I also wanted to spend time with my twin sister who was now terminally ill.  I lost both my sister and my wife to cancer and I felt so frustrated that I couldn’t help save the lives of the two most important women in my life.  I made up my mind to become a healthcare professional so that I could be in the position to help save lives in the future.  Because London had become depressing for me, I wanted to go somewhere far away so I applied to study Cytotechnology at SUNY Plattsburgh.  I was advised to do my prerequisites at FMCC because it would be the cheaper option for me. And that is how I came to be at FMCC.

I do not particularly like the cold season, so once I found out that Plattsburgh was twice as cold as Johnstown, I knew I wasn’t going to school there.  I have not regretted coming to FMCC; I’ve met some awesome people here and I’m still loving it after four semesters.  I like that it’s a small campus with great facilities, and outstanding resources.  FMCC provides a well-rounded environment both socially and academically with technology to match; this gives every student the opportunity required to be successful in whatever field of study they may choose.

tai-with-grace2

“I’ve met some awesome people here …”

I still have two semesters to go; I’m still struggling to pay my fees; I’m still parenting my son in London from across the ocean, and the nursing science programme is very challenging, but I remain undaunted in my desire to become a healthcare professional.

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