Mike Tertsea, the Nigerian student schooling in the United States was given the ‘best’ surprise package ever by his classmates who raised money to bring her over for his graduation ceremony.
According to Baltimore Sun, Mike, an only child, hadn’t seen his mum, Felicia Ikpum, 56, since he left Nigeria to study at The John Carroll School in Bel Air, four years ago.
Felicia didn’t even recognize him when she met him at the airport, last Friday.
During the school’s baccalaureate ceremony on Wednesday, Mike, a basketball player, was surprised to learn that the whole senior class, joined by faculty members, came together to make it possible for his mother to make the trip from Benue State, Nigeria, to see him graduate from high school.
“I was really, really surprised. It is really a blessing and I thank everyone for coming here. It was a tough drive for her. She said at one point, she felt like giving up. It was also her first time on an airplane, and for a while, she couldn’t recognize me and couldn’t believe it was her son,” Mike said.
Principal Madelyn Ball said one student had asked, “Is Mike’s mom coming to graduation?”
She said: “Everyone was concerned because, you see, Mike has not been home for four years.”
She then explained how the senior class was able to raise $1,763.
Mike and his mother got a standing ovation as they were asked to come up on the stage, where they each thanked the senior class for bringing them together. Mike said he is an only child and his mother is his only immediate relative. Growing up in the Benue area did mean real challenges.
Kishan Patel, student government president, said: “It was a joy to do this. Mike sometimes went to bed hungry, and now you see this kid going to Division I with a basketball scholarship – wow, this is what it’s all about.”
Mike, 6-foot, 10-inch tall, plans to attend the University of Rhode Island.