Daniel Nwoke

Chicago, USA

Daniel  Nwoke

Daniel Nwoke is a medical student at All Saints University School of Medicine. Originally from Nigeria, he grew up in Aba, a city in the southeast of the country with high levels of crime, kidnappings and robberies. However, growing up he always wanted to help others and be the best he could be – so he gathered other children from around his neighborhood and taught the ones who couldn't access a good education. Eventually he developed the ambition to be a doctor, and went to complete his training in Chicago – but his dream was almost upended by a horrific and illegal immigration detention. 

In 2017, as he returned to the United States from a visit to Nigeria, Daniel was detained at O’Hare International Airport, despite having a valid visa, paid tuition receipts and a clinical schedule. He was illegally taken into ICE custody at Kenosha County jail, where he experienced a 6-month ordeal. Along with the emotional shock of being imprisoned for no reason, he was deprived of important prescription medication and denied medical attention. He was never given the opportunity to let his family know his whereabouts and could not speak to his lawyer. Eventually he became so sick that he needed hospital, where he still had to wear chains on his wrists and ankles.  

While detained, however, Daniel decided to make the best of a bad situation. Being imprisoned with 27 other African detainees, he realized many were not able to speak and write English. With the permission of the correctional officers, He started to teach an English language class every day, helping the other detainees to write down and present their cases to attorneys. Since his release, Daniel has been motivated to help others in a similar predicament, advocating for other immigrant detainees who are still in ICE custody. He volunteers with the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), the Interfaith Community for Detained immigrants (ICDI), and has started an informal non-profit called African Detained Immigrants Project (ADIP) – aimed at helping African migrants start a life after arriving in the US. Together with NIJC he has met a number of Washington lawmakers to advocate for equity and fairness to immigrants.  

If Daniel wins the Global Student Prize, he will use the money to help provide food, commissary items and legal representation for over 100 African immigrant detainees being held across several Immigration jail facilities in Illinois and Wisconsin. He would also donate some of the funds to a dormitory building project at Ableway International Christian School in Nigeria, a non-governmental school he started that gives less privileged children the opportunity to go to school even with little or no finances.