Far from home, Nigerian-born prep star pursues academic and basketball dreams in Michigan - MLive.com

When Peter Nwoke remembers the last hug he shared with his mother, a smile spreads across his face. It was a hug 10 months in the making and it remains one of his favorite memories. “It was the best feeling ever,” Nwoke said. The hug happened back in 2018 when Nwoke was just 15 years old. He had just completed the long 14-hour flight home from Detroit Metro Airport to his home Lagos, Nigeria, where his sister, Roselyne, was waiting to pick him up and take him home for a three-week stay. When Nwoke’s mother, Adamma, laid eyes on her son, she rushed to him before he made it to the front door. “My mom hugged me for five-straight minutes,” Nwoke said. “I wasn’t even in the house yet.” It was the first time he had returned to his hometown since moving to the United States in 2017 to fulfill an academic scholarship he obtained at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Preparatory, a Catholic boarding school in southeast Michigan. Up until that point, it was the longest Nwoke had ever been away from ho

UNLV Students Continue Giving Tradition with Holiday Toy Drive - UNLV NewsCenter

UNLV Students Continue Giving Tradition with Holiday Toy Drive - UNLV NewsCenter

UNLV Students Continue Giving Tradition with Holiday Toy Drive - UNLV NewsCenter

Posted: 24 Dec 2020 08:28 PM PST

A UNLV tradition of supporting local children with holiday gifts is alive and well, despite complications posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between 600 and 800 gifts were purchased by UNLV student groups for members of two midtown Las Vegas Boys & Girls Clubs. The toys were presented this week by UNLV President Keith E. Whitfield during socially distanced visits to the Ralph and Betty Engelstad and the John D. Gaughan Boys & Girls Club clubhouses.

"I was heartened to learn that our student organizations were continuing to support this important cause despite the pandemic, and I'm proud that I could be a part of it," said President Whitfield. "UNLV is committed to partnering with our community in ways that are truly impactful, and it means a lot that our students were able to brighten the holidays for children throughout Southern Nevada." 

UNLV students have been a part of community toy drives for three years. Because nearly three-quarters of classes are meeting remotely, registered student organizations conducted the drive remotely via an Amazon Wishlist due to the potential health risks.

"Our students come from all sorts of backgrounds, and many of them understand that holiday gifts, particularly in the current economic climate, are not assured," said Sunny Gittens, executive director of UNLV's Office of Student Involvement and Activities. "Though conducting this toy drive online was different, the students understand how impactful these gifts can be."

In previous years, Boys & Girls Club members received the gifts during a full-scale Winter Festival at which UNLV students organized carnival-like games and entertainment. That portion of the drive is suspended, but there are plans for its return when pandemic restrictions are lifted. 

"This year, we have seen everyday life affected in so many ways, but we are delighted UNLV students didn't allow it to impact their holiday spirit," said Lindsey Hibbard, resource development director Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada. "UNLV has always been a fantastic supporter of our programs, and this contactless toy drive was a great success."

UNLV's Office of Community Engagement and Office of Student Involvement & Activities supported the online toy drive along with several registered student organizations, including the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Alpha Epsilon Delta, Public Interest Law Association, and Human Resources Student Association, among others.

Law student reflects on a year of learning from behind a screen - The Nevada Independent

Posted: 25 Dec 2020 02:00 AM PST

For Emily Driscoll, 2020 has been the year of "Zoom law school." 

A second-year student at UNLV Boyd School of Law, she has juggled unemployment, rental assistance, raising a young child on her own and, of course, law school as the slow expansion of the pandemic from weeks into months has stacked new stress onto new stress.

"It's just stressful, you know," Driscoll said. "It's been nine months of this."

"I didn't get unemployment until late October," she said. "And so it was also like, on top of academic stress, I literally had no money. And I have a two year old, and I'm at home with my kid going to Zoom law school, and they expect me to focus — but I don't have any resources."

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Driscoll is no stranger to an online college experience. Traveling abroad through Switzerland and India through much of her undergraduate career, she worked as an au pair, or nanny, as she completed an online degree from Grand Canyon University. 

When that degree was finished and she was back home last year, Driscoll said she was looking for a sense of stability when she decided to pursue a career in law. And though she entered law school without a clear sense of purpose or direction other than that desire for stability, she said she's since found a calling in pursuing law as means toward achieving social justice and protecting civil rights. 

Still, amid the crush of academic and financial pressure, Driscoll said she saw a pervasive sense of inequality as the semester played out, even after multiple town halls meant to address student concerns. 

"It just didn't feel fair," she said. "Why are the poor kids being held to the same standard as the rich kids, when we have our whole family — elderly people, and babies and disabled family members, and people we have to take care of — at home."

Across the country, a number of schools have moved to implement some form of option pass/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading as a means to remove at least some academic pressure from the strangest college semester in recent memory. 

But while many undergraduate institutions, including in Nevada, have maintained these grading options into the fall, law schools — including Boyd — have generally shied away, opting instead to preserve the traditional grading scale. 

Nationwide, what little data available on the subject shows a student body with split opinions on the issue. A limited survey of about 200 law school graduates in the class of 2020 by test-prep company Kaplan found that 48 percent supported pass/fail, while 41 opposed and 11 percent were unsure. 

There have been other failings in Driscoll's view, too, such as the lack of a cohesive policy on the use of cameras during Zoom classes. Driscoll said she started to find things so difficult that she "already felt defeated by the semester."

"It was so stressful, I was so sad all semester, I just wanted to sleep," she said. "I couldn't really get out of bed, I had no motivation for anything, I felt like I was really doing the bare minimum …  I felt like there was no point in putting effort."

Driscoll has since started therapy that she said has helped her cope with all the added stress that has come since the start of the fall semester. What has also helped: simply that the semester has finished. 

Though in the year of the coronavirus and the year of Zoom law school, sometimes when it rains, it pours. 

"I love to ride my bike, [but] my bike actually just got stolen, so I guess I don't love to do that anymore," Driscoll said. "I really like roller skating [too] — those haven't gotten stolen yet." 

But under the weight of the pandemic and law school and everything that's come along with it, Driscoll said her support network has been crucial in ensuring she even has the opportunity to continue her education. Whether it's the help of her mother or her friends or her access to daycare, student loans and what she described as "decent" financial resources, she said her own story of single-motherhood is just that: her own story.

"I think that people kind of use a 'single mom who overcomes some kind of obstacle to become successful,' as some kind of like, poverty porn," she said. "Just some kind of weird thing where like, 'Oh, if you just work hard enough, you can be not poor' — and I don't think that's true. Of course, hard work and dedication are important. But there is no way that I could do law school without the support of my family and friends and a crippling amount of debt."


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