Undergraduate wins national scholarship
Published September 13, 2012
David Lukudu considered a pencil an amazing gift when he was growing up in what is now known as South Sudan. A pencil meant he could take notes at school and get an education. And being educated meant anything was possible.
Lukudu, a senior majoring in geology at NDSU, felt like a kid getting a pencil when he learned he was selected for a 2012 Subaru Minority Student Scholarship. The program is for undergraduate minority students considering a degree in the geosciences. Lukudu was one of six U.S. students awarded a scholarship.
Bernhardt Saini-Eidukat, chair of the geosciences department at NDSU, told Lukudu the good news when he came to a final exam spring semester. Lukudu jumped. He whooped. He gave Saini-Eidukat a big hug.
“David works 40-plus hours per week at a local manufacturing company to support his family while carrying a full load to complete his geology degree at NDSU,” Saini-Eidukat said. “He has a vision of working in petroleum exploration back in his home country of South Sudan if political conditions there improve. I was very pleased to nominate him for the Subaru Minority Student Scholarship Program, and he very much deserves the award.”
Claiming his education
Lukudu was born in a mountainous area in South Sudan where his interest in geology developed. He collected rocks. He played with rocks. He was captivated by rocks that emanated light during nighttime hunts with his father.
At a young age, he knew he wanted an education and that it would not be handed to him. He would have to pursue it. Claim it.
Lukudu remembers getting one pencil a year for school. He sharpened it just a little, just enough to write. He didn’t want to break the lead. That would be a waste when he needed to copy an entire book from the chalkboard. Only the teacher had a book.
Lukudu left his village to attend high school in the city. Instead of continuing his education after high school, he left his country to escape political unrest and violence. He lived in Egypt for 13 years, delivering flyers to make a living.
In 2000, the United Nations resettled Lukudu and his wife in Fargo. He secured a job at a local manufacturing company and settled into life in a new country.
He remembered hunting with his dad and the glowing rocks. He thought about what his illiterate uncle said when he visited a city: “If I had eyes, I would see stuff.”
His uncle was referring to signs he couldn’t read. “If you have an education, you have eyes,” Lukudu explained. “You can see through mountains. You can see anything.”
Lukudu started researching colleges and geology programs.
Lukudu ultimately chose to pursue his geology degree at NDSU. He remembers Saini-Eidukat showing him the labs and introducing him to professors. The next day he applied to NDSU.
After graduation, Lukudu plans to work for a petroleum company, perhaps in South Sudan.
Lukudu said he will always remember Subaru for awarding the scholarship. “If someone helps you with your education, that is big,” he said. “An education is more valuable than anything in this world.”