A life of turmoil and upheaval will be granted a moment of jubilation
when Betiem receives his master’s degree in health administration and
is recognized with a Graduate Dean’s Citation for Academic Excellence.
Since August, he’s been employed at Spectrum Health Hospitals Fred
and Lena Meijer Heart Center, leading a team responsible for the
sterilization of instruments and facilities.
“It means a lot to me to be graduating,” Betiem said. “Now I can show
my real talent and skill I learned from GVSU. It’s like a dream come
true. All I can do now is work hard to achieve that dream.”
He has survived four years as a child soldier in Sudan’s brutal civil
war; 10 years at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya; and the targeted
elimination of his fellow tribe members, the Nuer, during the South
Sudanese Civil War which began in 2013.
“Peace is coming slowly, but the security situation remains terrible
countrywide,” Betiem said.
Now as it appears the conflict in South Sudan is subsiding, global
warming and climate change have unleashed flooding on a massive scale
across his homeland, endangering farmland and prolonging a famine.
Ninety percent of the land in Mayendit County, South Sudan, Betiem’s
home, is underwater, he said.
“I want to find partners or work with academic researchers to find a
solution to the flooding which has engulfed my home country,” he said.
It has been a remarkable odyssey for Betiem, who survived to find a
new life in the United States and eventually Michigan.
“I have worked with Haak as his advisor, and it has been inspiring to
watch him encourage others, overcome barriers, and grow in
resilience,” said Raymond Higbea, director of the School of Public,
Nonprofit, Health, Hospitality and Tourism Management.