Nicholls’s first Congolese student enjoying Louisiana lifestyle


Photo by: Lorin Crowe

Michael Okito, a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is the first student from his country to attend Nicholls State University.

For anyone who has ever toured in the union at Nicholls State University or walked through Donald G. Bollinger Memorial Student Union, one eye-catching attraction may be the colorful banners dangling from the ceiling.

Each flag represents a student that attends Nicholls and the country where they were born. There are over 50 different banners hanging in the student union that represent Nicholls students from across the globe.
Michael Okito, a current student here at Nicholls, is the first student to attend Nicholls from his country.

Okito is a native of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo located in the heart of Africa. Okito came to the states shortly after graduating high school to further his education. Initially living in Dallas, Texas after coming to the states, Okito set out to earn a degree in petroleum engineering. He searched for universities that best fit his goals comfortably. After researching numerous universities and colleges, Okito chose Nicholls to pursue his degree.

“Nicholls accepted me right away. I came to Louisiana and visited the campus, and I knew right away this is where I wanted to be. I felt very comfortable around here because it is a family setting. I felt like I could learn better here,” Okito said.

The culture of Southern Louisiana is also something Okito said allows him to feel more comfortable. After deciding to attend Nicholls, Okito scheduled a tour to visit where he’d be spending his college years. Coming to Nicholls and the Thibodaux area was also his first time visiting the state of Louisiana.

“I knew the state of Louisiana, specifically the southern area of Louisiana, was heavily French influenced. It gave me some interest since I come from a French background,” said Okito, whose first language was French.

One thing Okito enjoys about life in the bayou area is the tasty food choices.

“Last summer I attended a crawfish boil. The seafood is something I really got acquainted with while here, and the jambalaya is made better around here,” Okito said. One dish Okito wishes was more available to him in Louisiana is Fu Fu, which is a favorite of his back home.

The hospitality shown throughout the University and surrounding areas is one aspect of life that reminds Okito of Kinshasa.

“People like to make you feel at home around here,” Okito said. “People don’t mind being around you and they try to get to know you. It’s very similar to what I am accustomed to back home in Africa. People may not know who you are necessarily, but they still treat you as their own.”