Festus Ohan’s (pictured) road to graduation from UCLA was paved with extreme adversity. Speaking about the day his father abandoned him as a kid, he said that “I went to bed in tears, crying, praying, asking God, ‘Why did this happen to me?’”
He also cannot recall the number of foster parents he’s gone through; he estimates around seven or eight. “My time in the foster care system was the worst time in my life.” That only served to make school more challenging.
Ohan says he often got in trouble for fighting in high school, almost getting expelled in the process. His foster parents never supported his dreams of becoming a doctor.
“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,” he added.
However, Ohan proved himself better than the odds. Graduating UCLA with a neuroscience degree, he’s received acceptance letters to schools such as Northwestern University, Columbia University, University Of Houston and even Cornell University.
UC Riverside’s Jan Forrester was proud upon finding out about Ohan’s acceptance letters, remembering when she first met him.
“He had never heard that he could do this before, and you could start to see him start to believe he could be a doctor,” she said.
Ohan hopes his triumph will spur others to do the same. “Never give up, really hold on to your dreams, because as long as you’re able to stick through it and persevere, you will accomplish your goals.”