OGLESBY – Since the May 22 premiere of Illinois Valley Community College’s Commencement video, keynote speaker Dr. Promise (PK) Yong has been busy responding to phone calls and more than 200 messages and testimonies from well-wishers.
“The commencement address has gone viral in the entire African community all over the world and social media platforms,” said Yong.
“Someone randomly posted the speech in one of the platforms where I have been part of coordinating a fundraiser for the Kom Palace Renovation Project (KPRP). ‘Kom’ is the tribe I come from in Boyo Division of the Northwest Region, Cameroon in central Africa,” the IVCC chemistry professor said.
“The KPRP seeks to renovate existing structures at the seat of our culture, Kom Palace, where our King (Fon) lives. Built in 1730 when the Kom tribe settled at the current location, the renovation project is the largest in over 100 years and will include toilets, accommodate modern health standards and properly preserve the historic setting
“The overall masterplan includes the eventual construction of a museum of arts and culture that will house our famous statue, ‘Afo-Akom,’ meaning a ‘thing’ from Kom. The statue was carved in 1865 and was stolen in 1966. It was brought to a museum in New York, was found and returned to Kom in 1973.
“In addition to the numerous testimonies on the impact on personal lives, the speech has attracted donations of more than $4,000 toward the project!”
Yong began teaching at IVCC in 2008. He received his bachelor’s in chemistry from the University of Buea in the Republic of Cameroon and doctorate in organic chemistry/photochemistry from the University of North Dakota.
In his speech, he spoke of losing his mom at age 10 and how his father also took on the role of his mother and inspired him to stay in school, even though he lacked financial resources in his native country, Cameroon in central Africa.
It was no surprise to IVCC President Jerry Corcoran the video would have such great reach.
“Dr. Yong’s speech was phenomenal and one of the best I’ve heard in my 31 years at the college. He is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met in my lifetime,” said Corcoran.
Dean of Natural Science and Business Ron Groleau echoed the sentiments. “Through it all, Promise remains a humble person and an outstanding instructor. We are so fortunate to have him as a member of our IVCC community.”
In his speech, Yong closed saying, “What starts here at IVCC can change the world!”
Afterward, he reflected, “To imagine Dr. Corcoran’s decision to have me present at commencement has improved the lives of many in my community (with numerous questions about IVCC), and to have people sending me pictures and contacts of their kids to talk to them; I can never have appropriate words to express my gratitude.”
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