Nick Ogutu came to the United States in 2010 from Kenya with one goal in mind: to get a better education.
He arrived with only $38 in his pocket and no place to call home. Through friends and his church community, he has been able to achieve a lot within his short time in the U.S. Many do not know how rough his start here was; it included brief periods of homelessness and a near-fatal car accident.
After a year of physical therapy at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital, Nick completed two Associate’s
degrees from Northampton Community College and Lehigh Carbon Community College. In 2014, he earned a transfer scholarship to join Cedar Crest College. Cedar Crest was an amazing institution where his faculty and fellow students gave Nick so much motivation. He volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, MusikFest in Bethlehem, and Autism Walks at Dorney Park in Allentown. Nick attended school and volunteered in the daytime and worked every night at an adult care facility.
Nick was involved in refugee resettlement in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. Because he is multilingual, the local
resettlement agency was able to increase the number of refugees they could receive and began assisting people who spoke Swahili -- from East and Central Africa. As part of his work with Lutheran Services Agency, he picked the refugees up from the airport when they first arrived, acquired apartments for them, and took them for health screenings, among other everyday necessities. Nick was so passionate about refugee resettlement that he conducted research and wrote a paper on the services refugees get when they arrive in the USA. Nick and his research partner, Hawa Diaby, presented the paper at the Health, Wellness and Research Conference in Allentown. Nick has been documenting for the past two years the life of a refugee family from Congo with the hope of producing a film on the challenges refugees face in resettling in USA, and how they overcome barriers to become productive citizens of this country.
Nick’s great accomplishment has been the work he has done with Amnesty International USA (AIUSA).
Apart from founding two AIUSA Chapters in Pennsylvania and New York, he galvanized the local community, including political, business and religious leaders in advocating for the people of Burundi who were potentially facing genocide and the marginalized community of Oromo of Ethiopia. The rallies held in Allentown and New York had profound impact in those countries and were well covered in both local and international press. Nick has also organized several other conferences and rallies on other issues like police brutality in Kenya, police shootings in US, the Muslim & refugee ban in the US, and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for West Africa and Haiti.
While at Columbia University in New York, Nick served as a research and outreach fellow for New York
Immigration Coalition (NYIC), which is one of the premier organizations in immigrant’s advocacy in the United States. His work there exposed him to a greater need and a huge gap existing in providing resources and services to black immigrants in United States. Since his graduation from Columbia University, he has put together a team of volunteers, mainly his former classmates, in providing a platform for black immigrants to share their stories in an online magazine and digital phone application. He has yet to get any financial support from any individual or organization but he hopes to collaborate with funders in pursuit of fighting for the rights of black immigrants.