Because Of Broward College, I Can Fulfill My Promise | Broward College Office of Advancement and Broward College Foundation

Because Of Broward College, I Can Fulfill My Promise

Aime Kalangwa


At 14, Aime Kalangwa witnessed the brutal torture and murder of his parents, three sisters and five brothers. Rebels attacked his village in Africa’s Democratic Republic of Congo and wiped out the only life Aime had ever known.

Aime fled the village with his 11-year-old brother. Lost, alone, terrified and hopeless, the two boys wandered the wilderness for weeks until they stumbled into neighboring Uganda. There they were homeless for three years, surviving on dumpster scraps, and looking ahead to a bleak future.

Eventually, Aime and his brother received help from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. As minors with no parents, the agency resettled them in the United States in 2011.

Aime, whose only frame of reference was life in a remote African village, arrived in South Florida to face a host of challenges of a different type. He didn’t speak any English. He had no familiarity with modern conveniences, such as indoor plumbing and electricity. He had no understanding of American culture. And, at 19, he only had a 5th grade education.

Despite his limited education and because of his age, Aime started school here in the 12th grade. When he walked into West Broward High in Pembroke Pines, his teachers and administrators were hopeful he could learn English, make some friends and one day pass the General Educational Development exam.

Aime, however, set his sights higher. He had a burning desire to help other child refugees in his native land and knew the only way to do so was through education, thanks to the teaching of his foster parents.

“I made a deal with the principal,” Aime said. “I asked him if he would give me a high school diploma if I completed all my coursework and passed the FCAT. He agreed, so I worked night and day, 12 hours a day, for that whole year.”

His hard work paid off. Aime received his high school diploma, the first person in his family ever to do so, with a 3.8 grade point average.

Having experienced success in high school, Aime turned to Broward College for the first phase of higher education. The support of Broward College professors and administrators went way beyond the classroom. In addition to helping him overcome challenges with his coursework, they taught him life skills that laid the groundwork for a successful future.

“If it weren’t for Broward College, I wouldn’t be who I am today,” said Aime. “They empowered me to get an education. They walked me through the whole process to help me be successful in this country. They all impacted my life tremendously.”

Aime earned his Associate of Arts degree from Broward College in two years, and then he headed to Florida Atlantic University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree with a double major in criminal justice and political science this past May.

As a co-founder of Everyday Hope, which provides a safe haven for refugee orphans, Aime recently headed back to the Democratic Republic of Congo to help refugee children along the Rwandan and Ugandan borders. He expects to stay in Africa for the next ten years.

“I love Broward College because they trained me, they showed me how to be successful,” said Aime. “Because of Broward College, I can fulfill my promise to help other orphaned refugees.”


Make a Gift
Alumni & Friends
Continuing Education
American Dream
Bailey Hall
More Stories



The road to success at Broward College was a bumpy one for Rob Sekuloski. His mother, Gabriela, left Macedonia for the United States before Rob and his older brother, Riste, joined her. Uneducated and single, Gabriela had suffered physical abuse at the hands of her children’s father. She recognized that she and her children had no opportunities in her native land and was determined to forge a new life for them in America.

“My mom took a leap of faith in order to provide a secure future for her family,” said Rob. “She always said she would do anything when it comes to us. Love will push people to do things they otherwise would not do.”

Gabriela “escaped to the United States,” as Rob put it, without knowing when she’d see her children again. Fortunately, the two boys were able to traverse the world to the United States … two years later.

Rob Sekuloski (center) with cousin Kristijan on the left and childhood friend Lina on the right, shortly before Rob moved to join his mother in the United States

Culture shock. A seven-year old boy arrives in the United States from rural Macedonia. He has no understanding of the English language or American culture. He is overwhelmed by the busyness and size of South Florida – cars, people, buildings, noise, chaos. This is how Rob Sekuloski began life here.

“South Florida is no Macedonia,” said Rob. “The first thing I saw when we landed at Miami International was hundreds of people, all from different cultures, in the same place. The atmosphere was so different. The comparison to Macedonia was night and day. I was introduced to a completely new world that I had no clue existed.”

The differences between his life in Macedonia and his new home in Plantation certainly were “night and day.” He headed into Broward County public schools without any grasp of English and nearly failed the first grade. While he made friends due to his self-described gregarious personality, he had difficulty assimilating through elementary and middle school, and he struggled to adjust.

The game changer came in middle school when Rob discovered football.

“During physical education, we played American football every day,” he said. “As competitive as I am, I completely fell in love. The sport helped me cope with the stress of my classes and even the problems in my household. Plus it helped me assimilate into a new culture more fluently.

“Most importantly, with football I had a family of fifty players every year,” he added. “My whole family was in Macedonia, so my teammates and coaches were my family. Football allowed me to develop a competitive identity that carried over to my education. I never wanted to lose, I wanted to be the best at everything, and I wanted to know everything.”

The yearning for knowledge rooted in football served him well. He maintained an “A” average throughout high school and continued to do so at Broward College, where he completed his course work for an Associate of Arts degree, concentrating in Economics.

“College was not always on my horizon, but I knew I had to pursue further education somewhere, somehow.”

Because of its affordability, Broward College opened the doors of higher education to Rob. And as an immigrant, the diversity of the student body appealed to him. He also was excited about participating in the school’s Honors College.

“The Honors College at Broward College was pivotal in my decision,” he said. “It presented me with an opportunity to take rigorous courses while also contributing through service, leadership and academic excellence.”

Rob Sekuloski, seated left on the front bench, in the Czech Parliament during a conflict management simulation on Iraq and Syria

During his time at Broward College, Rob received multiple scholarships, including the Willis Holcombe Scholarship, Phi Theta Kappa Civic Service Scholarship, Irm’s 100 Honors College Scholarship, and the Broward College Foundation Scholarship for the Fund for American Studies, among others.

“Receiving financial support has been vital in my pursuit of earning a degree and a career in economic development and diplomacy,” said Rob. “It has allowed me to move forward with my education and to achieve my goals and aspirations.”

Now 21, Rob graduated from Broward College last December. He is taking one more prerequisite course this semester before pursuing a bachelor’s in Economics. He hopes to attend Northwestern University, Brown University or Stanford.

“I am motivated by compassion for people who have experienced economic inequality and poverty. My hope is to help improve people’s lives,” said Rob. “Broward College has opened up opportunities to make this dream a reality.”

“When I was lost, Broward College provided an atmosphere for me to challenge myself and take steps toward the direction that best suits me,” he said. “Broward College has been pivotal in my development as a student, leader and person.”

Rob Sekuloski, standing, with Nancy R. Botero, Broward College’s Vice President for Advancement and Executive Director of the Broward College Foundation, with Dr. Willis Holcombe, former Broward College President, former Chancellor of the Florida College System, and one of Rob’s scholarship benefactors


Make a Gift
Alumni & Friends
Continuing Education
American Dream
Bailey Hall
More Stories