He lost his father, went through foster care, but was accepted to 9 medical schools16
Reported by Liku Zelleke
He led a tough life. The odds were stacked against him and, at one time, it did seem that he wouldn’t be able to make it through high school. He, and almost everyone around him, just couldn’t imagine seeing him succeed.
But that is exactly what Festus Ohan, 22, did: he succeeded.
Festus spent his teen years in foster care. He remembers the day his father left him.
“I went to bed in tears, crying, praying, [and]asking God ‘Why did this happen to me?'” Festus says. Over the years, he was passed on from one family to another, so many of them in fact, that even he isn’t sure about the exact number – seven or eight is his best estimate.
All he knows is that the time he spent in the foster care system “was the worst time” in his life. It didn’t help with his education either.
“Early on in high school, I got in trouble for fighting a lot,” Festus says, “and I was in a pre-expulsion contract.”
His ultimate dream was to become a doctor. But the life he was living almost made it impossible for him to keep that dream alive.
Those that were actually supposed to encourage him were the ones that were discouraging him. “Constantly hearing my foster parents throw statistics at me, about there’s only a 1 percent chance that a foster kid will even graduate college, let alone attend professional school, kind of impacted me in a way,” Festus says.
That’s all changed now. Festus is about to graduate from University of California, Riverside with a degree in neuroscience. He’s so good at his studies that, so far, he has been accepted to 9 medical schools all over the country: Northwestern University, Columbia University, Cornell University, University of California, San Francisco, University of Houston, University of California, Los Angeles, and University of Southern California.
But Festus has made up his mind; he’s headed to UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine where he has been offered a fellowship that covers all expenses.
“I actually start Aug. 4, so I’ll have like a 6-week break,” Festus says, “but I’m excited for the next step in my journey.”