Can Brown University Handle the Udozorh Family?

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William & Peter

William & Peter

Michael & Julieth

Michael & Julieth

This post was written by guest blogger Cheryl Tillery, GT teacher at West Mesquite High School. What a wonderful testament to this family and to Cheryl’s work as a GT teacher!

In the spring of 2010, Brown University accepted the first of three siblings, Onyebuchi Michael Udozorh, eldest son of a Nigerian-born family living in Mesquite, TX. Attending West Mesquite High School, Michael walked into my GT English class in August 2006, with the firm idea that he would be valedictorian, attend Harvard University, and become a doctor to save the world from disease. An exceptionally dedicated student, he worked well with others and was more than willing to help, but he could not understand why other students did not work as hard to achieve their very best, as he did. He was old enough to remember his life in Nigeria and understood his parents’ sacrifice to leave their home and travel to the United States for a new life. He felt he must strive for nothing less than quality work. I watched Michael grow from a young freshman to an outstanding young man as a senior. I watched that stubbornness evolve from med school to law school to a double major in health and human biology and visual arts with honors. I watched his artistic side create paintings, sketches, and designs for art, edited and encouraged his developing writing skills, and cheered for him at the Regional Academic Decathlon Competition. I must admit, I loved and admired Michael as if he were my own son.

In 2008, Michael’s sister, Chimezie Julieth, walked into my GT English class. She was six when she left Nigeria so she did not remember as much as Michael. However, she also wanted to become a doctor. Julieth, with her strong personality, was a different student. She was more than willing to help others, if they asked for help, but mostly, she scared the other students. If a student made a mistake, she had no problem letting him or her know exactly what the mistake was with a solution to fix it. Although a tough cookie, she had a loving, caring side underneath the harsh side. It wasn’t often that others were able to see it, but I did. I was expecting my second child, and Julieth did her best to take care of me by making sure I received lots of gifts for the baby. My girls continue to adore the gifts, even today. She even fashioned a book with poems about mothers. It was such a sweet gift that I treasure still. On a visit to the school while on maternity leave, she watched over the baby and wouldn’t allow anyone else to hold her. I felt she was quite protected. Juliet, my daughter from another country and family, also has a special place in my heart and always will.

In 2010, the third sibling, Kelechukwu Peter, walked into my GT English class. Peter never really talked as much about his plans for the future. I believe med school has always been an idea, but he didn’t vocalize it as much as the others. As far as a student, Peter was a combination of Michael and Julieth. He was very demanding of his classmates and could be seen as scary as Julieth. His classmates even dubbed him “Best Future World Dictator.” Like Michael, he allowed his emotions to come out in his art. To me, his dark style evoked his internal struggle with being a member of a family with high expectations. His brother was valedictorian, his sister was salutatorion, and he was ranked third in his class. Peter even wrote a speech about being in third (school rank and family rank) for a competition, the same competition Michael won first place and Julieth won second. Was it destiny for Peter to come in third place in the competition too? It doesn’t matter because he too will always have a special place in my heart.

In 2014, Peter graduated high school on a Friday night, and Michael graduated from Brown the next day. Their proud family was torn between two important graduations, full of excitement.
Peter will be attending Brown in the fall with his sister, a junior, whose major is public health & international politics. Michael is planning his next educational endeavor at UT Law School.

Kay Shurtleff

Kay Shurtleff

Although my day job is educational consultant for GT/Advanced Academics and ELAR, I also spend ridiculous amounts of down time drinking tea and reading, blogging, tweeting, and playing with language. Writing is a natural outlet, mode of thinking, form of entertainment, and illuminator for me. I'm working on a PhD in gifted education right now, and I appreciate having this forum in which to kick around ideas. Thanks for stopping by G/T-time!

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