Two Daughters, Two Scholarships, Two Proud Parents
Jeanne and Tony Ubogu are bursting with pride these days. And who could blame them, really? Their daughters, Frances (a senior with Bridgeway Academy) and Susan (a recent Bridgeway Academy grad), are considerate enough to have saved Jeanne and Tony quite a bit of money in tuition payments. That’s the result of both young women earning substantial academic scholarships through diligent work and considerable effort.
And those scholarships (from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst for Susan and a full ride to Notre Dame University for Frances upon graduation) are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Ubogu sisters. But let’s rewind a bit and take a journey to Africa to learn more about the Ubogus’ story.
Choosing the Right School
Susan and Frances, like many children, began their studies in a traditional brick-and-mortar school. Seeking a high-quality education for their girls, Jeanne and Tony opted to send Susan and Frances to an American school while living in their home country of Nigeria. Unfortunately, the consistent devaluation of Nigerian currency (the naira) compared to the US dollar rates made it cost-prohibitive to continue with their current school situation.
At this point, Jeanne began to seriously contemplate homeschool education for Susan and Frances, under one condition–she would only consider homeschools using a reputable, American-based curriculum. As Jeanne conducted research into homeschool academies that fit her criteria, she began narrowing the list by focusing on the universities and colleges that each homeschool’s graduates planned on attending or had attended.
“For us, this was particularly important, knowing what we wanted for our kids,” said Jeanne. “We definitely knew Bridgeway was the way to go because there were testimonials of graduated students who were doing well in their various career paths at college level.”
Impressed with what she found during her research of Bridgeway, Jeanne began to consider other traits that would separate one homeschool academy from the pack. And when she discovered the wide array of electives offered by Bridgeway, it sealed the deal. Her daughters would attend Bridgeway Academy.
A Flexible Education
Bridgeway and the Ubogu family was an instant match made in academic heaven. Beyond the courses and curriculum, both of which were of utmost importance, Jeanne and Tony were sold on Bridgeway’s day-to-day operation. They appreciated the fact that their kids had deadlines to meet, a regular load of quizzes and tests for which to study, and a steady stream of assignments to complete. With this type of workload, the Ubogus always felt they were apprised of what their daughters were learning. And despite a consistent regiment of schoolwork, Jeanne noted that there was always an element of flexibility that Bridgeway offered, which simply wasn’t feasible in a traditional school environment.
This was especially important in Susan’s case, as she had some big plans in the works while she continued her studies. First, she created and incorporated her own media company, Fortunato IX…at the age of 14! Then, along with two of her close friends, Susan founded a non-governmental organization (NGO) called It’s Never Your Fault, an amazing initiative that is seeking historic changes to gender equality in Nigeria, particularly as it pertains to child marriage. Susan’s organization has gained worldwide attention, appearing on CNN, Arise TV News, Cosmopolitan SA, and the Malala Funds, just to name a few.
“Our first project was finding a way to clamp down on the rampant issue of child marriage in Nigeria,” explained Susan. “So we started a petition to amend the constitution and completely outlaw child marriage, and we currently have almost 500,000 signatures.” And all of this was happening as Susan was still homeschooling with Bridgeway! The flexibility allowed her to champion this incredible cause and focus on her business without falling behind with her schoolwork.
It also afforded Frances the opportunity to share her love of science with kids through her website, Med-Kids, which she created in 2019. According to Frances’ bio on the website, she “decided to create this website so I could share what I know about biology to young people! The purpose of my website is to nurture the interest in science many children have. I hope to pass on my knowledge to younger kids who share the same passion that I do.” Mission accomplished, Frances! Med-Kids is packed with information about all aspects of biology (even updated to include the coronavirus), all written in a way that’s easily digestible for children.
Susan and Frances firmly believe that the flexibility offered by Bridgeway allowed them to learn more about themselves–about who they are, who they wanted to be, and how they would get there–and their thoroughly impressive projects and initiatives are living proof.
“Bridgeway Academy really helped me learn more about myself and the kind of life I want to have for myself,” Susan explained. “It allowed me to be able to explore different interests and, through the development of those interests, I was able to develop a central tenet of my person.”
“My favorite thing about Bridgeway is the flexibility that comes with it,” said Frances. “I have the privilege and opportunity to choose my own schedule and essentially be in charge of everything I do each day, and it gives me a sense of freedom that I am truly grateful for.”
Getting Set Up for Post-Graduation Success
As anyone who homeschools is well aware, flexibility is one of the major attractions of homeschooling. And, as Susan and Frances attested, Bridgeway provides that flexibility. The Ubogus, however, also valued the many courses and experiences that helped prepare the girls for college and life after graduation. Frances and Susan have progressed through Bridgeway Academy using the Total Care Elite online program, which allowed the girls to enhance their skills and capacity to take AP exams in preparation for life after high school.
Jeanne also noted how rigorous the classes were for Susan and Frances, which helped prepare them for college. Jeanne said, “The rigors of the coursework were very engaging and prepared my kids for the challenges that come with [attending] university.”
She further explained, “We encouraged our daughters to take the hardest courses offered during a particular school year. We made sure they took virtually all of the honors subjects available for their grade levels, and they also started taking AP courses and exams quite early.” And while this undoubtedly was a challenge for Susan and Frances, Jeanne firmly believes that doing so had a major impact on their college preparation.
Susan can attest to that belief, as she is pursuing a dual degree at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she is currently enrolled in the school’s Commonwealth Honors College and has been a fixture on their Dean’s list. While Frances will graduate from Bridgeway this spring, she is currently holding a GPA of 4.17 and is primed to begin her journey as a pre-med student at Notre Dame in the fall.
Universities, however, do not admit students solely based on academics–no matter how impressive. Admissions officers at higher learning institutions across the globe seek well-rounded young adults who excel not only in the classroom but in their extracurricular endeavors as well. And, as a good parent would, Jeanne appreciated the challenges that the rigorous curriculum provided her daughters, but she didn’t want high school to be strictly about good grades for Susan and Frances.
Susan, for one, found the electives and extracurriculars both enjoyable and helpful during her time with Bridgeway. In fact, as Susan was preparing to launch her media company, IT electives such as game design and animation taught her some of the skills she would use to create her own website. “My favorite thing about Bridgeway was the fact that I was able to explore all my interests through extracurriculars like forensic science, animation, and game design,” she said.
Feeling the Love (and Support)
Susan and Frances Ubogu are obviously extraordinarily intelligent, hard-working students, and odds are they would have experienced a great deal of academic success no matter where they matriculated, but Jeanne and her daughters could not be more effusive in their appreciation for the support Bridgeway Academy provided from the minute they enrolled all the way through to graduation (in Susan’s case, and in just a few months for Frances).
Frances, who is 17 (but mature beyond her years), said, “Bridgeway Academy significantly helped me improve my dedication to my studies and the sense of responsibility I had. I have always been a determined student, but the combination of supportive teachers and a greater sense of independence led to my immense growth as a student, and I think this is going to be beneficial for not only college, but beyond.”
Bridgeway’s teachers were cited by Jeanne, Susan, and Frances as a primary reason the family felt so supported. Jeanne noted the direct access her daughters had to each of their teachers anytime they needed them, and that the instructors were always hands-on and very communicative with both the kids and parents. Perhaps most importantly, according to Jeanne, “the teachers know the capabilities of their students and encourage them in methods and concepts they could use to do even better.”
But as any Bridgeway student (current or former) knows, the teachers aren’t alone in providing unparalleled support to families. “I appreciate how helpful not only the teachers are, but the counselors and advisors are as well,” noted Frances. “They are all rooting for your success, and their support has been indispensable in my journey.”
Overall, Jeanne insists Bridgeway heightened the girls’ sense of responsibility and fueled their desire and determination to do what was necessary to achieve success with their academics and become more well-rounded students. “The teachers and advisors made it possible for them to believe that they were always capable of achieving their top goals.”
Jeanne and Tony are well aware that their daughters are exceptionally gifted, but they also know that intelligence only gets you so far without hard work and the dedication to succeed, especially since homeschooling requires persistence, discipline, and a certain degree of self-reliance. “To be honest,” Jeanne said, “God has been faithful to us in our homeschooling journey, but as parents we could not be more proud of our girls’ achievements and success.”
She also offered plenty of praise to Bridgeway Academy, saying “My husband and I would love to express our sincere appreciation to the close-knit Bridgeway family for all the help they have provided us with over the years. Your school is touching lives, and without Bridgeway Academy, none of this would have been possible.”
While the Ubogu family’s praise is certainly cherished, it’s Bridgeway who takes pride in students such as Susan and Frances, hard-working young women who are destined for success and bright futures. The sisters truly exemplify Bridgeway Academy’s values, and we couldn’t be more proud of their accomplishments.