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Phoenix Forward

University of Phoenix student Betty Ireigbe publishes autobiography

University student writes memoir

As a child, Betty Ireigbe walked more than 20 miles a day to fetch water, contemplating her life in a rural West African village. Today, she is a celebrated author and businesswoman.

Ireigbe recalls in her new memoir, “Courage: The Inspirational Life Story of an African Woman” (Hunter Heart Publishing, March 2012), how she longed for a life beyond her mud hut and her village in Nigeria, where medical care and schooling were scarce.

“I was just getting through with courage and looking for the [proverbial] mountain,” says Ireigbe, 46, a student at University of Phoenix Western Washington Campus pursuing a project management degree. “I was going to get there. I became very smart.”

Education was my way to self-preserve.

In her book, Ireigbe writes about leaving the village to live with her father in Southern Nigeria’s capital, Benin City, to pursue her education.

“Education was my way to self-preserve,” says Ireigbe, who still speaks with the colloquialisms of her home country.  She received a teaching degree at Anglican Women Teacher Training College in Benin City and delayed an arranged marriage and emigration to the U.S. until she could complete a second degree at University of Benin.

America seemed intimidating to Ireigbe upon her arrival in 1993. With no friends nor a job, and back-to-back pregnancies, she felt isolated in her new home. But she was inspired by the kindness of neighbors and the people of her church.

Today, the Seattle-based entrepreneur is owner of a vocational training school for certified nursing associates. She credits her success to her continuing desire for education. “It’s a powerful story,” she says, proud that she learned to embrace the freedom of her new culture and home — and the endless possibilities for an entrepreneur.

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