North Dakota State University student David Lukudu received a 2012 Subaru Minority Student Scholarship. Lukudu, 46 from South Sudan, is studying geosciences at NDSU. Charly Haley / The Forum

FARGO – While growing up in a mountainous area of South Sudan, David Lukudu liked to play with rocks.

Now, the 46-year-old is a geosciences student at North Dakota State University and recipient of a 2012 Subaru Minority Student Scholarship of $1,500 from the Geological Society of America.

“I am very excited about that,” Lukudu said. “I feel very honored.”

Lukudu was nominated for the scholarship by Bernhardt Saini-Eidukat, chairman of the geosciences department at NDSU.

“When I got the email announcing (the opportunity for) this award, I immediately thought of David,” Saini-Eidukat said. “Seeing what a hard worker he is and how dedicated he is, it made him, in my mind, the perfect person for this.”

He pointed out that Lukudu works 40 hours a week supporting a wife and two children while taking on a full class load to complete his degree.

Saini-Eidukat was thrilled to find out Lukudu received the scholarship.

“David is an extremely deserving person who works hard, and I’m sure (he) will be successful in geosciences,” Saini-Eidukat said.

Lukudu said he left South Sudan to escape political wars and moved to Egypt. He lived for 13 years in Egypt, where he started his undergraduate education. He was unable to complete his degree because he and his wife were resettled by the United Nations to the U.S. in 2000.

After getting his family settled, Lukudu looked to pursue a geology degree.

“I was looking for a program with good geology because I love geology,” he said. He decided on NDSU after also considering the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, and began classes in 2009.

Lukudu will graduate sometime next year.

“When I graduate, I’m looking for jobs at oil companies back home,” Lukudu said. He would also consider jobs in the Middle East because he is fluent in Arabic.

“It’s preferable if I could go back home,” he said.

Lukudu said he is grateful for the Subaru scholarship because it is helping him achieve his dream.

“That chance (to get a degree) was not there before, but I got the chance here,” he said. “I can live my dreams today, even if I’m older.”

Lukudu said he often compares people who help him to someone in South Sudan who gave him a pen while he was in grade school there.

“If someone bought you a pen, you don’t forget him, because he contributed to giving you knowledge,” Lukudu said. He’s grateful for his NDSU professors. “They contributed a lot to giving me that knowledge.”

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