Last weekend, nearly 7,000 students graduated from the University of Virginia. On Saturday, May 19, Christian Roch-Laban Ignoumba, who came to Charlottesville in 2010 as a refugee from the Republic of the Congo, graduated with his BA in Foreign Affairs and French.
Soon after arriving in Charlottesville from the Central African country of Gabon, where he had lived as a refugee, Ignoumba began working as a greeter at Wal-Mart. He ended up keeping this job for almost five years, because he valued its stability while simultaneously pursuing his education. He started taking classes at Piedmont Virginia Community College, and a few years later was able to transfer to UVA. During his time there, Ignoumba took advantage of the opportunity to study a variety of areas in the Liberal Arts, in addition to studying abroad in both Lyon and Geneva, which led him to pursue a dual degree in Foreign Affairs and French.
Ignoumba’s niece, who came with him to the U.S. as a child, and whom he has raised mostly on his own over the past eight years, will graduate in June from Charlottesville High School.
Speaking on the occasion of his graduation, Ignoumba asks “God to bless all the people who have helped and have showed their supportive attitude towards me and my family, as well as those who [voluntarily] or inadvertently persecuted us along the way to this achievement.”