Her energy, laughter and straight-forwardness take your breath away, from the moment you first meet her. She is a Sudanese woman who came to the United States via Cairo in 2005.
She is brilliant. She is funny. She is Marcilina Lodongi.
Lodongi comes at life with the energy of a thousand firefighters, and is a force to be reckoned with. This semester, she re-entered school at Salt Lake Community College in order to earn her degree in Surgical Technology.
Lodongi is a single mom with her own cleaning business. She also works part-time as a professional custodian. In addition, she works as a caregiver — when she isn’t attending classes or studying, or being mom to her 9-year-old son. There simply are not enough hours in a day to accomplish all that she does each and every day.
“I can do it,” she says, “because I have a goal. My goal is to be independent.” Together with the programs offered by SLCC, Lodongi is making that happen.
Lodongi knows her way around the surgery room because she was working as a surgical assistant before she left Cairo. She loves the work she did in Cairo, and wants to gain the certification to do in the U.S. what she did there — but that will be just the beginning.
She intends to become a physician’s assistant — but one thing at a time.
When she came to the U.S., Arabic was her primary language, and English was not even yet her second. Lodongi worked hard to learn the language of her new homeland and to satisfy the requirements of becoming an American citizen.
After arriving from Africa, Lodongi took only two years to earn her U.S. citizenship.
Her son, Phillip, is her whole life. Their lives have always been harder than hard. Providing for her son drives her ambition to make progress everyday — even just one percent more today than yesterday is all it takes to keep learning, to keep working and to keep striving.
Lodongi knows that in going to school, she is modeling the importance of education and hard work for her son. For the generations of Sudanese born in the U.S., failure is not an option. The survival of their people and the future of their nation depends on their education and their success.
There is no stopping Lodongi, who has survived wars in Africa and overcome being a stranger in the strange land of America to become a citizen, an entrepreneur, an employee and a student.
In addition to being a spectacular single mom with the intention of renewing a career in the world of medicine, Lodongi has learned the value of networking. Through networking, she reveals, “I can accomplish so much more. Life is too hard to do all by yourself.”
Because Lodongi knows she will succeed, she also wants to encourage others to succeed. She says that if you have a goal, you too can do whatever it takes to realize your desire.
“Never give up — keep looking forward and never lose your focus on your goal — you can do it,” she says, “I believe in you.”