Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Liberian student sweep excellence acadamic award in the U.S.

Dover, Delaware. On May 8, 2007, Kolubah Kpokai became the focus of photographers attending the 2007 Nursing Class pinning ceremony at The Delaware Technical & Community College Terry Campus in Dover, Delaware. During the ceremony, Kolubah received the highest 2007 Practical Nursing “Spirit of Nursing” award. The spirit of nursing award is based on academic and practical performance. Kolubah was described by one of his faculties as “courageous, determine, respectful, and intelligent young man with a bright future.
Practical Nursing is one of the highest money making fields in the U.S. but achieving the license is a though journey. Usually, lots of students are thrown out of the program because of poor academic performance but kolubah work tirelessly to break the academic records in the college.
On the podium, Kolubah “along with his fellow candidates” solemnly pledge before God, and in the presence of the assembly to:
.Conduct personal and vocational life according to the highest moral and ethical standards:
.Refrain from doing or saying anything that is harmful or mischievous;
.Refuse to take or knowingly administer any harmful drug;
.Hold in strictest confidence all personal matters committed to their care;
.Do all in their power to maintain and evaluate the standards of their vocation;
.Devote to the welfare of those committed to the care;
On May 14, 2007, the Annual Commencement Ceremony of the Delaware Technical & Community College was held on the campus of the Delaware State University in Dover, Delaware. Kolubah was the only Liberian among 275 graduates. He swept another high honor of academic performance recognition.

Academic Regalia (courtesy of DTCC)

The use of the academic regalia costume, which seems to have originated in the English Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, has been traditional in University life since the medieval times. In England and other European Countries, academic attire generally is distinctive with each university so that very colorful ensembles of diverse styles are commonly used abroad.
Unlike European academic apparel, the academic costume of American universities follows a regular pattern, the styles and colors having been established by intercollegiate agreement in 1895. Cap, hood, and gown are prescribed in style. Color variations indicate differences in the field of knowledge presented and conferring institutions.
The mortarboard cap is identified as holders of associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. For holders of the doctorate, the cap may be made of velvet and the tassel may be gold. Candidate for degrees wear the tassel on the right side of the cap, changing it to the left side after the degrees have been conferred.
The hood is the most distinctive feature of academic attire. Used originally as a cowl, as a shoulder cape, and as a container in which to collect alms, it is now worn at the back suspended near the shoulder. The hood for the master’s degree is three and a half feet long with a three-inch border. The doctor’s hood is four feet long and the border is five inches wide. The inner lining of the hood is in the official colors or colors of the institution conferring the degree, while the color of the border indicates the field of learning in which the degree is earned.
Members of Terry Campus (Kolubah’s Class) are wearing academic regalia made up in colors of the college rather than in traditional black. The hood worn by graduates receiving associate degrees are black with the school colors (green and white) as trim.
Those who are graduating with summa Cum Laude (Highest Honor) wear gold. Those who graduate with Cum Laude wear (Honors) wear white cord.
In a brief interview, Kolubah overtly declared his intention of returning home to help structure the health system in his native Liberia. When asked how soon, he said “I will have to obtain my master’s, doctorate, or PhD before returning home to stay or help with the structuring of the health system in Liberia. Kolubah will be returning to school come January 2008 to work on his RN (Register Nurse). According to the Delaware Tech (DTCC) curriculum, Kolubah has two more semesters to obtain his RN.


Kolubah hailed from a Tiny West African Country of Liberia. Founded by free American slaves in the early 18 century, Liberia enjoyed American supports and protection until 1989 when rebels of the defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia lunched a senseless civil war that lasted for fourteen years and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and properties whilst the launchers of the war lived extravagant life style at the expense of the country. As a result of the outbreak of violence amongst factional leaders in Monrovia in 1996, Kolubah was forced to flee home in search of security in another country. His thoughts were enticed by promises of a better life in refuge or another country.
The overcrowded refugee camp of Buduburam “where Kolubah sought refuge” became a breeding ground for poverty. His life in refuge became filled with disappointments.
Like many refugees or exiles, Kolubah find it very difficult to dismiss memories of his home. When one flees a war zone, all that one often takes are memories of painful occurrences and otherwise. Many store these memories as images of the world left behind. Some keep them as stories worth telling later on. Images or memories followed us wherever we go and can define and shape our dreams and choices. Sometimes too, the paths we choose in life are strewn with discarded images of our past and our conversations with others are colored by our past experiences.
Kolubah grew up experiencing poverty. Many days, he went to bed hungry or felt asleep shivering from the cold. Some blessed individuals in the community felt sorry for him and had to go against their way to stretch helping hands to him. Poverty, however, remains a harsh reality for people who are plagued by civil war and other humiliating problems in third world countries.
In 2002, Kolubah migrated to the United States and took two years to get prepare for college. He entered the Delaware Technical & Community College in 2004. Kolubah and few other Liberian students have set good or excellent academic records at the College. Over the years, Eugene Kortee has appeared on the Dean list several times. Last semester, Sam K Zinnah bounced back and appeared on the Dean list of the college. At the end of the program, kolubah ended up with two certificates in the back seat of his car.
Preparations are underway for a small palm wine party to be held on May 26, 2007 in Dover, Delaware.

Sam K Zinnah
Dover, Delaware

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