Airman invests 'lottery' win into experiences rich in service, education

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Anne Gathua
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs
Airman 1st Class John Emeka Ndubuisi will always remember the day he won the lottery.

It wasn't the multi-million-dollar payday that Powerball or Mega Millions provides. To him, his jackpot was even richer and deeper - an opportunity to come to the U.S. and fulfill his insatiable thirst for education and service. Five years later, the native of Umuahia, Nigeria, proudly serves his adopted country, yet humbly recalls an incredible blessing that only a fortunate few can claim.

Airman Ndubuisi, a Family Member Relocation Clearance coordinator and Exceptional Family Member Program coordinator, assigned to the 17th Medical Group, came to the U.S. through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery Program. The program provides diversity visas annually to people who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.

"Winners are randomly selected, and many people are not aware just how selective the DV program is," the Airman said. "It is really hard to get a visa to come here."

Airman Ndubuisi added that for the DV lottery 2011, more than 12 million people applied and only 50,000 visas will be issued. Though as much as he knew the odds of winning were slim, he still applied in 2005, while continuing to pursue his bachelor's degree in industrial physics from Abia State University, Nigeria. He said he hoped he would win because he knew his bachelor's degree would not guarantee him a career in a country plagued with high unemployment.

"I know a bunch of friends and family members who have graduated and are not gainfully employed," the Airman said. "My oldest brother has a bachelor's degree in mining engineering, yet cannot find a stable job in the oil sector."

After applying, Airman Ndubuisi focused on his studies hoping his extended family here would perhaps help him immigrate one day.

"Little did I know that God had a whole different plan for me," he added.

A few months before his graduation, his aunt brought him a package while he was at church. At first, he thought it was a Christian newsletter he subscribed to, as that was the only correspondence his aunt usually brought him. A few hours later, he finally opened his package and joyfully reveled in its contents.

"I was thrilled," he said. "I was praying for a divine breakthrough and surely it came through winning the lottery."

The breakthrough had arrived, but it wasn't over yet.

"It's no easy feat to get selected, and selection does not guarantee that the U.S. consulate will grant the visa," he added. "I had to go through months of interviews, medical tests, payments, and other qualification procedures. Still, the ultimate decision rested with the person who did my final interview."

Airman Ndubuisi was granted the visa and in December 2005, he immigrated to the U.S.

In the last five years he's been here, he said the biggest notable differences between his home and adopted countries are the opportunities available.

"Pretty much everything is affordable," he added. "You graduate and you have a job for the most part, as long as you work hard and do what you need to do. The opportunity for making a living is much more realistic here than back home. Also, the opportunity to excel is greater here."

The Airman's drive to excel academically and the motivation to serve prompted him to join the Air Force in December 2008.

"I love my job," he added. "It gives me joy to help family members with their PCS move, and make sure that the educational and medical needs of family members are met in their newly assigned station."

Staff Sgt. Jessi Baugh, 17th Medical Support Squadron, NCO in charge, Medical Evaluation Boards, and Special Needs Identification and Assignment Coordination, said Airman Ndubuisi is very hardworking and goes above and beyond to help his patients and fellow Airmen.

Airman Ndubuisi's thirst for education and service is as strong as ever. He became a U.S. citizen in 2009, enrolled in Angelo State University last year and said he plans to continue serving the Air Force for a long time, possibly as an officer.

"I cannot express in words just how grateful I am for all the opportunities being in the Air Force has afforded me," he added. "A chance to better my life, being able to fast track my citizenship application at no cost, and getting a chance to further my education while pursuing a career I love, are just some of the things I do not take for granted."

Airman Ndubuisi, who won the 2010 Airman of the Fourth Quarter award for both his squadron and group, added that people do not realize just how blessed they are to be born in this country and he's glad the U.S. has a program that gives others like him an opportunity to come here legally and be part of everything this country has to offer.

"My future plan is in God's hand," he said. "He blessed me with this opportunity and I plan to take full advantage of it. The sky is the limit. I know the future is bright."