Six years ago, Queensly Ayegba was living in Nigeria with her husband, Emmanuel, and their two daughters, Andrea (9) and Tamara (8). Since then, Queensly has journeyed to the United States on a student visa with her two daughters in pursuit of a higher education.
Emmanuel stayed in Nigeria and is an electrical engineer in Abuja, the capital city. He has funded secondary education for many family members. The entire family places great value on education and giving back to their country. Nigeria is in constant unrest, and with the high poverty level, there is a desperate need for better health care and services.
“It was my dream to be a nurse to help my people. My husband and financial sponsor, Emmanuel, wanted me to come to USA where nursing education and practice is much more developed than in Nigeria,” Queensly explained.
How did she choose South Dakota?
She almost laughed as she told me her husband Googled “safest cities in USA with college or university for nursing or pre-nursing.”
Black Hills State University (BHSU) in Spearfish was the right place. When Queensly and her daughters arrived in Rapid City, she said she had never felt more love than she did walking into the airport, welcomed by a group of people waving and smiling.
Queensly also gained new friendships and a support team from the church she joined in Spearfish and also the Freedom Church when she moved to Aberdeen. They have all become family to Queensly.
After finishing pre-nursing courses at BHSU, Queensly enrolled at Presentation College for a BSN in Nursing. She graduated in May and is presently studying for the South Dakota
It was a sorrow that her husband, even with proper documents and established career in Nigeria, was denied a visa to visit since 2018 and couldn’t support Queensly in person at her graduation. Luckily, the family is still able to stay in touch, using What’s App for free messaging and calls.
Queensly’s plan is to earn a master’s degree in nursing, become a nurse practitioner, and gain experience before returning to Nigeria.
“I want to be able to teach others what I have learned. I want to be credentialed and very skilled in what I am doing so I can give back to my country. The suffering and need is great in Nigeria in spite of the abundant energy resources [oil and gas] in the country,” Queensly said.
Queensly then shared with me some of her cultural experiences since arriving in Aberdeen.
Queensly is really surprised at the skimpy portions of food served compared to home. In Nigeria, it is rice, rice, and more rice with even more chicken. Queensly prepares most of the family’s meals and enjoys venturing beyond chicken and rice. Her favorite food is lasagna.
I cautiously asked about her beautiful dreadlocks. Several African women help one another as there are no beauticians trained in Aberdeen to do dreadlocks. Queensly does her own hair and freely does hair for others as well.
Queensly also explained that she continually works to improve her “American” English. It comes more naturally for her children. Andrea and Tamara attend C.C. Lee in Aberdeen, and they love math and art classes. In her free time, Queensly takes Zumba at the YMCA. Together, they enjoy walks around the neighborhood and would visit Wylie Park every day if they could.
Queensly, Andrea, and Tamara all love Aberdeen. “We even love the snow although learning to drive in it has found me in the ditch many times in Spearfish and Aberdeen!” Queensly said. //