Two women graduate from Southeastern University in Lakeland, years after escaping Nigerian terrorist group
LAKELAND, Fla. - Two young women kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria eight years ago will graduate from Southeastern University of Friday.
Lydia Pogu and Joy Bishara were attending a girls school in the Chibok area when Boko Haram took over the school and kidnapped more than 300 girls. When the truck they were in hit a rut, Pogu and Bishara took a leap of faith, jumped out and escaped.
Eight years later, both of the women will get their graduate degrees on Friday.
"It is a lot of emotions, but I am super excited," Bishara said.
Pogu will even be the student commencement speaker at their graduation.
"When I was offered the opportunity, I was like heck, yeah! It is a really big accomplishment and honor to speak in front of hundreds of students and families," she said. "I am very grateful, and I can’t wait."
After their escape story got worldwide attention, the women were offered the chance to study in the United States. Eventually, both women came to Southeastern University on scholarship.
After graduating, Pogu wants to go to law school and Bishara wants to be a social worker in a hospital. In a few years, the women hope to open non-profits to helps others in the way so many people helped them get to where they are now.
The threat of being a possible target of Boko Haram, which doesn't believe in educating females, is not deterring Bishara.
"My heart wants to do it in the Chibok area, where it will make the most impact," said Bishara.
Pogu is open-minded about where she wants to launch her non-profit.
"I want to make a difference worldwide," said Pogu. "If God says go to China, if God says go to Uganda, go to Nigeria, as long as I am making a difference, it makes me happy."
Unlike Pogu and Bishara, many other girls did not fare nearly as well. Some were released back to their families, but more than 100 are still missing and unaccounted for.