News Archive


image of Denise Luke standing next to Rowan Campus Cosmetology signFor many of us, August 9th was just an ordinary day; a day of routine, a day of the usual busyness. But for Denise Luke, August 9th was a day that shell never forget. Its the day she became an American citizen! Its the day she and her family became free.

Luke was born and raised in Togo, West Africa. In 1993, war broke out in her native land so she and her husband, along with her four sons fled to neighboring Ghana for safety. For the next fifteen years they lived in two refugee camps. Stern dictator-style leadership caused conflict amongst the people which resulted in the killing of her husband and one son. After years of mental and physical abuse, Luke and her remaining sons were kicked out of the camp, the youngest being two months old. With no place to go, Luke lived on a small deserted beach on the Atlantic Ocean.

We survived by strangers giving us food, recalls Luke. It was a very sad time. This continued for nearly three years. I will never forget one day a white American woman came up to me and said, even though you are black, you are my sister, and one day you will come to America. Her name was Jessy Bradley, a Christian missionary, someone that Luke will never forget and has never seen again.

In January 2010, Luke received word from U.S. immigration that she and her family had been granted clearance to come to America. It was Gods grace that allowed this to happen, my prayers were answered. Lukes journey to America included several stops: Germany, Washington, D.C., Frankfort, KY and then to Lexington where a refugee ministry provided Luke with assistance to get on her feet.

She immediately enrolled in Adult Education classes to learn the English language. We got here on a Sunday and I started class that Monday, recalls Luke, who in just a few years now clearly speaks the language.

In Africa, Ms. Luke would provide for her family by walking from town to town doing hair. Doing hair is how my family survived, its how I was able to put food on the table, said Luke. I love making people feel good and hope to one day have my own salon.
Ms. Luke is a few months shy from completing her cosmetology license at MCTCs Cosmetology Center in Morehead. I chose the MCTC Cosmetology program because it is the best school in the region and they teach the diverse skills necessary for doing hair in the real world.

When I found out I passed my citizenship test, I decided to grow a big garden and give the food to anyone who needed it or is suffering, said Luke. So many people helped me when I suffered, now I want to do the same. Luke jokingly admits she is known around Morehead as the garden lady.

As for Lukes family, they have adjusted well to their new lives. The oldest is now 25 and living in Lexington with his wife; her 21 year old attends MSU; her 17 year old is getting ready to graduate high school; and that 2 month old baby that fled from the African refugee camp is now 11 years old and in elementary school.

For more information on the MCTC Cosmetology program, contact Megan Watson or by calling the MCTC Cosmetology Center at 606-780-0628.