Over 28,000 Yale hopefuls will be getting their admissions decisions on Thursday. But the story of Arkangelo Paul Lorem ’15 — profiled on Thursday by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof — puts college admission in a whole different perspective.
Kristof’s column recounts Lorem’s life story, from his childhood in a refugee camp in South Sudan, to academic success in Nairobi, to Yale.
Lorem nearly died of tuberculosis at age 5, Kristof writes. Seeking treatment for their son, Lorem’s parents brought him to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. His parents returned to the village and later died.
Now an orphan, Lorem grew up in the refugee camp, raised by older boys who encouraged him to attend school as a means to a better life. He moved to a middle school in Kenya and learned Swahili for high school entrance exams. He transferred on scholarship to the African Leadership Academy, a prestigious boarding school in South Africa. Near the end of high school, he traveled all the way back to his home village to bring his younger siblings to the refugee camp, so they could share in his opportunities.
“How I got to Yale was pure luck, combined with lots of people helping me,” Lorem tells Kristof. “I had a lot of friends who maybe had almost the same ability as me, but, due to reasons I don’t really understand, they just couldn’t make it through. If there’s one thing I wish, it’s that they had more opportunity to get education.”
Lorem plans to return to South Sudan to help his country after graduation. It’s hard not to be inspired by this story, so we encourage you to tell Lorem he is the boss/unbelievable, and give him a high-five. If you’re not one to be so public, or if you don’t know Paul Lorem, at least be reminded that we’re all lucky to be here.