2017 will close the chapter on an impressive family educational achievement, as triplets Kenechukwu (Kéne), Ikechukwu (Ike), and Rishana Ubah will all earn Bachelor’s degrees from Bloomfield College by year’s end.
On May 19, 2017, at the College’s 144th Commencement, Kéne and Rishana earned degrees in psychology and chemistry, respectively. Come December, Ike will earn his degree in business with a concentration in finance.
The Ubah triplets were born two minutes apart on July 1, 1994. They graduated together from Burlington County Vo-Tech High School then made identical college choices, enrolling at Bloomfield College later that summer. The Ubahs received a lot of financial support at the College, including scholarships for their exceptional community service records and additional donor-based aid from a fund established by Trustee Edward Heftman ’67. These scholarships allowed the triplets to live on-campus and were the driving forces in their decision to attend Bloomfield College.
Kéne and Ike were roommates for all four years with a main mission to look out for sister, Rishana. The brothers accomplished some separation as Kéne pledged Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated, graduating as Vice President of the Lambda Chi Chapter, while Ike opted for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated membership. All three were part of the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program and held down multiple internships during their time at the College.
Kéne was also a student ambassador, a part of Team Infinite, a social group dedicated to developing self-esteem, pride, dignity, and respect, and the Male Empowerment Network, as well as a student employee/building manager for the Center for Student Leadership and Engagement (CSLE).
Rishana was a McNair Scholar and student ambassador, a member of the First Ladies of Bloomfield College whose mission is to uplift, educate, and motivate young women in the surrounding communities, and acted as Secretary, Vice President, and President of the African Student Association. She worked as a lab assistant on campus, proctoring exams, and was a part of the TRIO SSS-STAR Program.
Ike, like his brother, was a student ambassador, member of Team Infinite, and building manager for CSLE. He also acted as Treasurer of the Bloomfield College Student Government and was a tutor counselor for EOF, helping peers in math and English.
While their co-curricular activities and academics kept them busy, the triplets have remained very close, and during the course of the interview, completed one another’s sentences.
“I am really proud of my brothers; they have grown over the years,” started Rishana.
“We’ve all seen each other grow. We have been through a lot together,” furthered Kéne.
“We all failed at one point or another. Experiencing the let downs together made it easier to get through,” closed Ike.
Their lives have not been easy and most recently, the had to relocate from their family home due to structural damage.
“Their father was always in our lives. He provided financial, spiritual, and emotional support. He played a significant role in encouraging our children to pursue education,” said their mother.
Having three children enrolled in college at the same time would be a financial hardship on most any family.
“We knew every semester was going to be (financially) hard,” began Rishana.
“It’s all on our father. Even in tough times, not finishing was never an option in his eyes,” added Kéne.
“He always said that we would finish college no matter what, even if he was in debt, at least in his eyes, we finished,” said Ike.
The Ubah triplets keep returning the conversation to their father, who was born in Nigeria and was unfamiliar with the higher education process in the states.
“Our dad is our number one supporter,” said Rishana, noting at one point she thought she had to drop a course, but her father encouraged her to stay in the class. “I tell him all the time that we would not be where we are without him.”
“His advice and everything he did for us…he sacrificed a lot. He gave up a dream career to be with us full time,” stated Kéne.
“He knew if he wasn’t there for us, no one would be there to push us,” added Ike.
Their father, Obi, works as a lead clinical engineer for a hospital. He took this position after leaving behind a lucrative career that involved heavy travel and too much time away from his children, who moved in with him full-time once they turned 10.
“I took a job for less pay, but more time with my family,” said Obi. “I put my personal life on hold, never remarried, so I could focus on the triplets and their educations. My children, and their educations, come first.”
Obi was an advocate for his children throughout their entire lives, tutoring them when they got home from grade school, encouraging them while they were in high school, and being a very hands-on parent throughout their time at Bloomfield College.
When asked if they wanted to say anything to their father, all three began speaking at the same time, Rishana with tears in her eyes.
“Dad, you are the father of the year – no, the century!” she exclaimed.
“Dad, your sacrifices haven’t been in vain, it’s all paid off,” expressed Kéne. “We appreciate everything you’ve done.”
“I love you, you deserve so much recognition. I wish there was an award,” said Ike.
As luck would have it, there was an award. The EOF Program awarded Obi a surprise parent award at their annual awards ceremony in April.
For Kéne and Rishana, graduating this past May means the world to them.
“It’s a relief,” admitted Kéne. “The hard work has come to fruition. I am so happy. Going through all we did and still being able to graduate, is truly something special.”
“The thought of graduating is surreal to me,” said Rishana. “I’ve had so many great experiences at Bloomfield College. I’ve definitely achieved something here. I passed classes I didn’t think I would, became involved in McNair Scholars. I am proud of myself. I weathered the storm and here I am.”
As Ike looks toward completing his degree in December, he cannot help but be reflective.
“It’s scary, but so rewarding,” he said. “After all the ups and downs, it’s unbelievable that we made it. We finally got to this point.”
The Ubahs are now moving on to their next chapters in life. Kéne plans on entering the Burlington County school system as a teacher assistant and substitute, with aspirations of working in school administration. Ike landed a job as a customer service representative with TD Bank, and Rishana will continue her chemistry studies at Binghamton University’s highly selective Ph.D. program.