Jok Nhial (’08)

B.A., Sociology, B.A., Political Science

I believe I survived for a reason; to be a useful and productive member of society, and to give back to my homeland."

Title: Founder and Executive Director, Liliir Education Project
Location: Federal Way, Wash.

Jok Nhial was born in 1985 in Bor, Sudan, fleeing the country just six years later, becoming what most people now refer to as “The Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan.”

Gonzaga Connections

  • Tacoma Alumni Chapter member
  • GAMP mentee

In 2001, Jok was among more than 3,500 “Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan” who were granted asylum by the United States. After spending years in Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya, adjusting to a new home was difficult, but his faith and his supportive foster family helped him cope through the culture shock.

Jok graduated from Foss High School in Tacoma and was accepted to attend Gonzaga University. He is the only person in his family with a college degree, earning dual degrees in sociology and political science.

“I understand the value of education,” he said. “I believe God’s plan for me is to restore hope to the people of my village, in Liliir, by building a school and providing materials and teachers.”

Today, Jok is executive director of the Liliir Education Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to help promote and enhance literacy and education in war-torn South Sudan. The Liliir Education Project addresses the fundamental issues behind the vast educational injustice and inequality in South Sudan by building a secondary school and providing scholarships to disadvantaged students that allow them to attend private universities in Kenya and Uganda.