University of Phoenix student Betty Ireigbe publishes autobiography
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.”
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.