A student at the John Carroll School in Bel Air, Maryland received the surprise of a lifetime thanks to his fellow classmates.
Mike Tertsea, standing at 6 feet and 10 inches, moved from Nigeria to Maryland when he was just 14-years-old in order to play basketball for the John Carroll School. Unable to return home since his arrival in the United States, Mike had not seen his mother in four years.
In a school newspaper article interviewing Mike, his classmates learned about the struggles his family faced during his upbringing. In some cases, Mike and Felicia even lacked the money to afford electricity and food.
Inspired by the heartwarming story of Mike’s journey to the United States, his classmates came together and found a way to bring his mother to Bel Air for one of the most important moments of her son’s life.
Under the guise of collecting money for a senior lunch, classmates secretly raised $1,600 in order to fly Mike’s mother, Felicia Ikpum, to Maryland so she could be present for her son’s high school graduation. In order to get Felicia to the high-school graduation on time, the students worked tirelessly to acquire the visa and travel arrangements she would need to get into the United States.
Despite their hard work to raise money, the students came up $500 short right before they had to buy the ticket. Fortunately, one teacher heard about the dilemma and was able to help raise the remainder of the ticket cost.
Having to travel over 5,000 miles just to get to her son in Bel Air, Felicia had to travel for over twelve hours just to make her flight. Passing by dangerous regions of Nigeria in order to get to the airport, Felicia remarked how “at one point, she felt like giving up.”
Lucky for Mike, his mother persisted through the difficult journey, and eventually surprised him as he walked across the stage at his high school graduation.
As he stood on stage towering over most of his peers, Mike saw a very familiar face in the crowd wearing bright yellow clothing. Mike was able to share this significant hallmark with his mother thanks to the hard work of his classmates, and the joy on his face when he saw her was an immediate indication of how much he appreciated her being there.
Mike Tertsea is taking his talent to college now, where he will be playing Division 1 basketball for the University of Rhode Island.
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