CORPUS CHRISTI – Father Thomas Kizito Nwachukwu illustrates the qualities of an Outstanding Graduate because of his persistence and dedication to education and serving others, despite facing numerous challenges. Father Kizito, as everyone calls him, will earn his Ph.D. in Counselor Education from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi on August 8.
Originally from Nigeria, Kizito, a Catholic Priest, came to the Island University in 2004 to begin his doctoral studies. Previous to coming to Corpus Christi, Kizito earned two bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Divinity from Bigard Memorial Seminary in Nigeria, and two master’s degrees in Family Therapy and Psychometrics from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
“One of the reasons why Nigerians travel abroad is to study and get the highest degree,” said Kizito. “By achieving academic success, I’m responding to the noble wish of the people back home.”
Having battled serious health issues and a near-fatal car accident in 2011, Kizito never gave up his dreams of graduating.
“I give thanks to God for making it possible for me to be here today,” said Kizito. “I have a fighting spirit. I’m undaunted. When something happens to me, I work to rise above it and keep moving.”
Kizito has been a Roman Catholic Priest since he was ordained by Pope John Paul II on February 14, 1982. He has worked as a Chaplain at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial since 1998. Kizito says it was his father who first inspired him to aim for higher education.
“When I was young, my dad was the headmaster of an elementary school. We lived in the school area and were always around books,” said Kizito. “Also, all of the priests in my town were intelligent, and they seemed to know everything. Those two things made a major impact in my life, and made me want to enter the priesthood and get an education to help others.”
Kizito’s Ph.D. dissertation, titled “Long-Term Marriages among Nigerian Immigrants: A Qualitative Inquiry,” explores how Nigerian immigrant couples in long-term stable marriages describe their experience of being married and what has helped them remain married, despite the high divorce rate in the United States and other countries.
“The skills that I have learned in this program will help me take care of people,” said Kizito. “Especially working in a hospital, where I am dealing with sick families and the staff that takes care of them, I am grateful for this higher education.”
Kizito believes that graduation is a new beginning, and he encourages all graduates to put into practice what they have learned during their studies.
“The Bible says, ‘to whom much is given, much is expected of,’ and therefore getting a degree shouldn’t be the end of it. The degree should be used to help people,” said Kizito. “Although this process took me a while, I learned that if try your best, you will prosper. My joy is that I finished what I started. I didn’t quit.”