South Sudan to Janesville: One Student’s Pursuit of Education

November 4, 2019

While some students travel down the street or across the county to attend Blackhawk, one particular student has traveled a much greater distance. Business Management student Abraham Riar took an uncommon path to Blackhawk. Abraham, once a refugee in the northern part of Kenya, now calls Janesville and Blackhawk home.

student, Abraham Riar, at computer

“I chose Blackhawk because of its quality teaching, affordability, and opportunities to transfer to a 4-year school,” said Abraham.

Abraham is originally from South Sudan, located in east-central Africa. South Sudan has experienced civil wars and has been in a state of political crisis throughout the last several decades. As a child, he saw tremendous violence and unrest in his community and fled to northern Kenya to seek refuge. During the crisis in South Sudan, Abraham has lost many family members. Still, he aspires to one day return home to help his country rebuild and recover.

With an entrepreneurial spirit, Abraham chose Business Management as his pathway in hopes of one day starting an organization to help find a solution and resolution for the conflict in South Sudan. “Communities need people to stand for them.” He continued, “I want to serve marginalized groups and give them hope.”

One might wonder, how does one find their way to Blackhawk from a war-torn country? The internet. Abraham reached out through different internet communities, curious to see if there was a place somewhere in the world that would help him pursue an affordable, quality education. Through the power of Facebook, Abraham connected with a family in Janesville who recommended Blackhawk Technical College.

“I came to Blackhawk with financial challenges but the college supported me through Blackhawk Foundation scholarships.” Even though the cost of attending college can be daunting, Abraham credits the Blackhawk Financial Aid Office as well as the Blackhawk Foundation for continuously helping. Both departments offer support to help students find the financial resources to offset educational expenses.

Now, Abraham is in his final semester in the Business Management Program with plans to transfer to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. His transfer to the four-year campus will be a smooth one thanks to an articulation agreement between the Blackhawk and Whitewater Business Programs.

Abraham is very grateful for the opportunities he has had as a Blackhawk student. “I never imagined graduating from college. But, when I came to Blackhawk I got the support I needed. It is a college that is committed to transforming the lives of students.”
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