After 10 years at refugee camp, Congolese tops her class in U.S. and gets $240K 

Mildred Europa Taylor June 06, 2023
Julianne Lukambo (Columbus City Schools)

After spending the first 10 years of her life at a refugee camp in Uganda, a high school graduate in Ohio is graduating at the top of her class. Julianne Lukambo was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo but she and her family had to move to Uganda as refugees due to war. 

Life in the refugee camp was not easy but after those painful moments, Lukambo is smiling today as she is not only ending her senior year as valedictorian but is also a recipient of $240,000 in college scholarships. 

“I was kind of surprised because I wasn’t like keeping count of the amount, but I think first of all I did keep my grades up throughout my entire time in high school. That’s something that helped me a lot,” she told 10 WBNS. “And also, I would say getting involved, networking, and branching out. It really helps you a lot with getting recommendations and having them [teachers] recommend you for different scholarships.”

In 2015 when Lukambo’s family first moved to the United States, it was difficult for her to function well in a new setting while a fifth-grader at Valley Forge Elementary School. But thanks to the many activities she engaged in including soccer, bowling, and joining a STEM Club, she was able to make it throughout her middle school and high school years. Besides getting internships, she took classes at local colleges amid her lessons at Northland High School and today, she is among the top earners of scholarships at Northland.

According to 10 WBNS, Northland’s senior class has now earned $5.6 million in scholarships and in total, Columbus City Schools seniors have earned $33,172,272.00 in scholarship and aid money. Lukambo, who advises others to get out of their comfort zone, will be attending the University of Dayton to study computer science. 

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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