The Chioma brothers — Ezedike, 18, and Chiemeka, 17 — are first-generation Americans whose parents are from Nigeria. The brothers are parishioners at All Saints Parish, Milwaukee, serving as acolytes, ushers and lectors. Their family moved to Brookfield a few years ago, but they still attend Mass every Sunday in Milwaukee because they want to remain a part of the All Saints community. According to the brothers, the recent violence in Milwaukee impressed upon them the importance to discern other people’s actions and to educate themselves on race relations locally and nationally. As first-generation Americans, the brothers said they are compelled to represent their Nigerian heritage and to set a good example to their friends and classmates.
School and/or occupation:
Ezedike: Freshman at UW-La Crosse studying chemistry.
Chiemeka: Senior at Brookfield Central High School; hopes to pursue a psychology degree in college.
What is your dream job?
Ezedike: I wish to have a managerial position with a chemical engineering company or eventually own my own chemical company.
Chiemeka: Clinical psychiatrist; I think of myself as a “people’s person.” I really like working with people and helping them through their problems. I want to dedicate my life to a good cause.
What’s on your iPod?
Ezedike: I have all kinds of music, like hip-hop and R&B but also the Temptations and Michael Jackson.
Chiemeka: A variety of rap and hip-hop artists.
If you could dine with anyone, living of dead, who would it be and why?
Ezedike: Definitely with Barack Obama. I don’t see in our world another president like him. I would like to talk to him about his outlook on America after his term ends.
Chiemeka: Martin Luther King Jr. I want to know about him as a person and really his mindset for what he did. I wonder how he got where he was and what he feels about today’s status of African Americans and the current police violence taking place all around America.
Who has made the biggest impact on you?
Ezedike: Nathaniel Gillon from Marquette University High School. He spotted me in church and wanted me to become an acolyte. I was really shy and didn’t think I could do it. He really brought me up with a lot of opportunities and scholarships and is very insightful.
Chiemeka: My father. He came from Nigeria to find a better life in America. He is always looking to improve the well being of our family and he is a good example for my brother and me to aspire to become as adults.
What’s one thing that makes you unique?
Ezedike: I can bring a lot of culture. My native background is Nigerian. I can relate to people more than others, whether they are Hispanic, white or black. I don’t like to label people because of their race or ethnicity.
Chiemeka: I am pretty social. When I meet people for the first time I don’t really initiate the conversation but I can keep it going.
Describe a normal weekend:
Ezedike: I usually find a comfortable book to read, play soccer with friends, relax from the weekday, talk with my family, and, of course, church where my family and most of the other Nigerians (gather with) God.
Chiemeka: Recently I’ve been applying to colleges and looking over applications. I like to relax and watch TV and go to All Saints Church.
Favorite Bible story/Scripture passage/prayer:
Ezedike: David and Goliath. I love the common underdog story of a kid who destroyed a giant. I was originally quiet and considered myself an underdog to other leaders, and I learned if you step up you have a shot to be something great.
Chiemeka: I really like the story of David and Goliath; a small boy beating a giant is like a small guy defeating a bully through his weaknesses. I see myself like David; I don’t like to see people get bullied. I have to do something about it.
Ezedike: “You do what have to do, so you can do what you want to do.” – Forrest Whitaker, “The Great Debaters. “
Chiemeka: “The person who succumbs to temptation knows far less about its power than the person who resists it.” — Anonymous. This quote is really powerful to me because a person who follows the crowd is seen as average. If you do your own thing, you are seen as unique and that can inspire other people.
What is your favorite food, dessert?
Ezedike: Pepperoni pizza, vanilla ice cream.
Chiemeka: Pepperoni pizza and French vanilla ice cream because it’s a whole level above plain vanilla.
A challenge in life that has strengthened your faith:
Ezedike: One of my friends committed suicide last January. I looked toward the church and Fr. Bob Stiefvater (pastor of All Saints Parish) for answers. It was really tough, because no one knew this was going to happen. I learned that we don’t always know what is going on in a person’s life or what is happening inside of them, but we can do our best to help each other.
Chiemeka: Throughout high school there has been a lot of pressure to maintain good grades. I am able to overcome the struggles of homework and studying by praying and meditating which results in my faith to grow stronger.
Ezedike: Probably running for fun or playing soccer with friends.
Chiemeka: I like to hang out with friends, like playing soccer on Brookfield Central’s field and playing video games like FIFA World Cup.
What is the most important thing you want to accomplish in life?
Ezedike: Really getting to know myself and seeing myself grow in college. I always feel I can improve myself and I want to go through a process of education and interpersonal development. I am reading a book on how to be an exceptional student in college and I want to start my own group or take a leadership role in an existing club.
Chiemeka: I want to help people as best as I can so they can be a better person in life.
How do live your faith every day?
Ezedike: I go about doing the right thing, not just “What would Jesus do?” or people are taught a particular way to go about doing something as either good or bad. I was taught to carry yourself through the day and know something good is going to come about, even though you might not know what it’s going to be.
Chiemeka: Meditation helps me learn about myself so I can think of what is happening and how I can strengthen my future through my faith, which keeps me motivated to become a better person.
Name one guilty pleasure:
Ezedike: I am really interested in international flags. I can easily recognize any country. I don’t know if it’s a guilty pleasure but my friends think it’s weird.
Chiemeka: I really like playing video games and downloading apps on my phone.