Gospel Ozioma Nnadi at the graduation ceremony/ Photo: Courtesy of University of Parma

Nigerian refugee graduates in Computer Science at top Italian university

It’s an inspiring story which teaches that temporary hardship should not derail a person’s ambition. Despite leaving his home country as an irregular migrant, despite undergoing the hardship of travelling across the desert, despite his being detained in terrible conditions in Libya and despite travelling dangerously on a rickety boat across the Mediterranean to reach Italy, the young Nigerian refugee did not waver in his ambition to receive a quality education. He recently graduated with a degree in computer science in Parma. 

The story of a young Nigerian refugee, Gospel Ozioma Nnadi, reached a happy ending despite the hardship he endured to reach Europe.

On 24 September, Nnadi graduated from the prestigious University of Parma with a degree in computer science, the first time in the university that a refugee student would graduate and the first graduation ceremony at the Science and Technology Faculty of the institution since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The University of Parma, one of Italy’s top tertiary institutions, said the young man fled Nigeria in 2016, following persecution of his family. After being detained in Libya he managed to arrive in Italy, and after various transfers to different Italian cities he landed in Parma. He applied for refugee status and meanwhile pursued his desire to study computer science.

Thanks to the support of the university’s Plan for Refugees, Nnadi was able to enrol in 2017. When he received refugee status during his third year, he was able to benefit from a scholarship, ER.GO.

“I’m very grateful for the gift of life, for having succeeded in graduating in computer science despite the difficulties, especially with the Italian language,” he said.

Gospel Ozioma Nnadi at the graduation ceremony/ Photo: Courtesy of University of Parma


“I’ve very happy that in these years I’ve met people who welcomed me, even with a simple smile. I arrived in Italy in November 2016 and I started attending Italian language lessons with the help of volunteers. In June 2017, I received an Italian language certificate at the B1 level.

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“Thanks to the refugee inclusion and integration programme at the University of Parma, I was able to enrol in the university degree programme in computer science and took Italian lessons at the same time, which allowed me to understand the lessons well. With the possibility of accessing library services until midnight, I managed to pass the exams, and now here I am.

“My deepest thanks to the university’s students, professors, and administrative personnel,” he said.

Sara Ranieri, the university’s pro-rector for didactics and student services, said Nnadi’s story is one of “welcoming and effort”.

“Welcoming on the part of the university, which has an ad hoc plan for refugees and was continually by his side, and effort and great willpower by the student, who achieved an important personal milestone. The University of Parma is proud to have accompanied him,” Ranieri said.

Adira Kallo with additional ANSA report

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