By Natalia Asis, Staff Reporter
John Ochira is a junior and Business Economics major, who transferred to University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) from Merrimack College. He left his home country, South Sudan, in January of 2005 for the United States when he was 16 and in this past eight years, he has never gone back to visit his family.
Ochira is a first generation college student. “My parents didn’t go to college,” said Ochira, “they didn’t even go to high school.” That is one of the reasons why he was a mentor for the Bridge Program, which helps first generation students get familiarized with the campus setting.
“I gave them advice on how to approach the workload and how to balance academic work and social life,” said Ochira. He learned many things on his own, but he does recognize that he got a lot of help from friends and professors. “I was never afraid to ask a question,” said Ochira, “no matter how stupid it sounded.”
Ochira’s high GPA shows he is a very dedicated student. On February 5th, 2013, Ochira was awarded as one of “the best and brightest students in a business or related field” by the Maine Bankers Association.
“He is incredibly organized and really focused,” said Clyde Mitchell, an Associate Professor of Business and Ochira’s advisor and professor in Managerial Finance. “He knows exactly what he wants to be; he goes and gets it done,” said Mitchell about Ochira as his advisee. As a student, “When I ask questions in class, he is not scared to answer,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell emphasized Ochira’s positive personality traits. “He is very down to earth. He genuinely cares about people and he does things because he wants to help,” said Mitchell, “he has such high standards.”
Ochira is also the Officer of Club Affairs at Student Senate. “While some serve the students with vested interest, John Ochira stands out,” said Tyler Washburn, a Student Senator at UMF, “He always puts the Students and Community at-large first. He is the ideal of a true leader.”
Other members from Senate also agree with Washburn. “He is really helpful and professional,” said Darrian Church, a sophomore and the Secretary of Student Senate. “He does his best and he is very dedicated to Senate.”
Ochira has been a C.A. at Mallett Hall for the past two years and residents in the third floor seem to always get along with him. “John was always helpful, and never thought any question was too mundane,” said Washburn. “On many occasions John has sprung into action to help find solutions for the students he serves, and always with a smile on his face.”
Lauren Crosby, a freshman who lives in Mallett Hall thinks that “he is a very nice guy” and that “John brings a very homey feeling to Farmington.”
Other C.A.s in Mallett hall agree with the residents.”I think John is a very committed CA,” said Ashton Carmichael, a sophomore and one of the C.A.s in the second floor. “He treats everyone really well and definitely looks out for the residents. I love working with him because he is so reliable,” Carmichael said, “John’s just really caring about everything he does.”
Ochira is interested in multiculturalism and has served as the President of the Multicultural Club. “John has always been the type to lead by example,” said Fred Ben, a senior and member of the multicultural club. “He has become the voice of the South Sudan Acholi youth in Portland, ME. I’m sure one day he will play a big role in our countries economic development,” said Ben. “What I admire most about John is his work ethic and level of commitment to helping people around him.”
Ochira has volunteered as a sight supervisor for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Portland in a supplement program. “It provides healthy and nutritious meals for kids up to 18 years of age,” said Ochira.
One of John’s passions is soccer. In previous summers, he has coached kids aged six to twelve for the Portland Housing Authority. “It is subsidized housing for families of low income,” said Ochira. “It is mainly inmigrants and refugees from other countries.”
Last semester at UMF, he played in the intramural team “demolition” which made it to the final. He also enjoys playing FIFA 13. “Luiz [Ristow, NAC Rookie of the year in 2011] can’t beat me,” said Ochira. A must-have in his FIFA team is the Dutch player Robin Von Persie. “I like him,” said Ochira, “he is a lefty”.
“I don’t know where he is going to go one day but he could go back and become president in South Sudan,” said Mitchell. “He is really such an amazing guy.”