An American Family Dream
Godwin Ajala was proud of being a lawyer in Nigeria. But because of hard times there, he immigrated to the United States in 1995, hoping to earn far more to support his family. At first he bounced between jobs, but ultimately he landed a steady position as a security guard at the World Trade Center. Still, he was frustrated, and he began pursuing his dream of becoming a lawyer in America, setting his sights on passing the New York State Bar Exam.
His roommate, Christopher Onuoha, said Mr. Ajala worked from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., went home for a nap and then studied for the bar for six to eight hours, often late into the night. Co-workers said he was last seen helping people escape from the trade center.
"When he was living here, he was suffering in terms of always working and studying," said a close friend, Christopher Iwuanyanwa.
Every September, Mr. Ajala visited Nigeria, and he was planning to travel there again this past September to visit his wife, Victoria, and their three children, Onyinyechi, 7, Uchechukwu, 5, and Ugochi, 1. His friends said he was planning to apply for visas to bring them to the United States.
"His dream was that he would take the law exam, pass it, and with that bring his family here and invite them to the swearing in," Mr. Iwuanyanwa said. "He would have been much happier if his wife and kids were around."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 27, 2001.