Michael Tertsea was 10 years old and 6-foot-7 the last time his mother, set eyes on him. That was four years ago.
As Felicia Ikpum hugged her son at the Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport last Friday, she noticed her kid, now 14 years old, has added bulk and towers at 6-foot-10. But none of these is particularly surprising. Tertsea, however, was surprised to learn of his mother’s arrival in the United States to attend his graduation at John Carroll School in Maryland. His classmates, assisted by staff of the school, completely shielded the entire plan from him.
Mike, who plans to attend the University of Rhode Island, was surprised to learn last Wednesday that his entire senior class, supported by faculty members, raised funds to enable his mother travel all the way from Benue State, Nigeria, to see him graduate from high school. Classmates raised $1,600 and the faculty added $500 to make the trip possible for Felicia Ikpum.
“I was so happy to see her,” said Tertsea who hopes to enter the NBA someday and have his mother watch him play. “I’ve changed a lot. She’s amazed at the person I’ve become,” he added.
Ikpum attended a Baccalaureate Mass on Wednesday for seniors and their families. Tertsea intends to show his mother around the monuments in Washington DC during her stay in the United States before she returns to Nigeria.
“I think America is great, with wonderful people. No wonder everybody wants to come here. I thank the people that have made it possible for me to be in this wonderful place,”she said.
Photo credits: Bryna Zumer/Aegis Staff/Baltimore Sun; John Carroll School/Joe Schuberth