By 1:30 p.m. on a warm May afternoon, Sampson Adese has hardly slept in the previous 36 hours.
But you’d never know it.
Despite getting little sleep since his son’s birth this March and working hard to complete his BA with the help of Carleton’s Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities (PMC) over the past four years, the 39-year-old student is all smiles.
After all, he’s just achieved a life-long dream: a university education.
“It’s like two worlds collided at the same time,” says Adese, who is graduating with a double major in Political Science and African Studies at June Convocation.
“On the one hand, here’s my baby boy, and at the same time I’m graduating within that same period. They both pose their own challenge, but that was superseded by the joy of it,” he says.
Adese, who is originally from southern Nigeria, moved to Canada in 2000 after visiting the country on a trip in his 20s.
His immediate desire was to go back to school. But without permanent resident status, and with bills to pay, it simply wasn’t possible.
“Over time, when the days become weeks, weeks become months, months become years, I kind of lost the opportunity to do it,” Adese says.
For the next several years, he worked odd jobs in manual labour and customer service, and even started his own exporting business.
“You can imagine the type of work that I had to do.”
Until 2006, that is, when he finally received permanent resident status and things started to look up.
“The most challenging was immigration,” Adese says. “My immigration status inhibited my ability to go back to pursue my education.”
But having been out of the classroom for so many years and with a business on the go, Adese was hesitant to let go of his work and jump back into school.
On top of that, he knew he might need extra support because of a learning disability.
“If I had continued my education, I was able to navigate those challenges of disability,” Adese says. “Wanting to go back to school now, it became something that scared me almost.”
Adese’s wife knew better than to let that stop him. When she joined Carleton’s School of Canadian Studies in 2012, she encouraged him to go after his dream.
“She said to me: ‘First, this is something you want to do. Secondly, if you need the help, there’s a place at the university.’”
So Adese enrolled at Carleton that fall as a special student.
“That is where I give most of the thanks to my wife (because) without her encouragement it would not have been possible,” Adese says. “And secondly, the Paul Menton Centre (PMC), which has been instrumental in me succeeding overall.”
He says the centre was always there to support him, from note-taking to helping steer him through the stress of exams.
Those may seem like small things to someone else, but without the PMC’s help, “I wouldn’t have been able to do it,” Adese says.
It’s part of what makes his graduation so special.
His walk across the stage will be evidence of determination to overcome the obstacles he’s faced.
It won’t be the end of his journey though.
He’s headed back to campus this fall to study the impact of China’s trade relationship with Africa for his master’s degree in political science.
For now, he’s excited to take his first summer off since 2012 to celebrate his accomplishments and spend some time with his newborn son.
“It was challenging,” he says. “I’m glad it worked out.”