After several months of hurdle, uncertainty and fear, a Liberian braved the storms to earn a Master Degree in Comparative and International Tax Law (LLM) at the Uppsala University in Sweden.
Mr. Rufus B. Senyon who graduated last week with Master in Tax Law narrated that it all started when a colleague who was successful on the Swedish Institute Scholarship for Global Professional told him to apply to the same scholarship.
He said one of the benchmarks for an aspiring applicant to the scholarship scheme is first applying and being admitted to any university in Sweden; which he did and was admitted at Uppsala University but was unsuccessful to get the scholarship.
“Since I was admitted already at the university, I decided to underwrite the cost. This means I have to care for my lodging, feeding and tuition. It was a huge decision with enormous challenges considering my poor financial status and the tuition alone being US$ 7,000 per semester,” he stated.
Besides, Senyon pointed out that it became even more difficult for him when the very people he confided in for encouragement started discouraging him. Some said it was suicidal and that he could not make it, and then came his own fear and financial insecurity.
As he pondered issues for days and weeks with some disquieting thoughts regarding the difficult task ahead, he drew inspiration from the words of Aristotle: ‘’the root of education is bitter but the fruits are sweet,’’ and also Martin Luther King Jr. who said: “take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase; just take the first.”
“Even with these enthusiastic words it took weeks to conquer my fear because the task seems insurmountable and the vision seems bleak, but by taking the first step and letting the rest play out, I was able to achieve an educational milestone that I never thought was possible,” he said with excitement.
“To all Liberians, if I can do it with all the challenges, discouragements, doubts and fear, you can do the same or even better. When you dream a dream or desire something, don’t sit idly, take actions, and take risks; conquer your fears to find your purpose and accomplish your dreams,” the Liberian tax lawyer urged.
“Let me echo the words James F. Bell who noted, “Fear is an insidious virus. Given a breeding place in our minds, it will permeate the whole body of our work; it will eat away our spirit and block the forward path of our endeavors. Fear is the greatest enemy of progress. Fear is met and destroyed with courage. Again and again, when the struggle seems hopeless and all opportunities lost, some men or women with a little more courage, a little more effort, bring victory.”
Senyon concluded by dedicating his Legum Magister (Master of Laws) in Comparative and International Tax Law and other important successes to his wonderful and all inspiring mother who never ceases praying for him even in her state of despair.
“All that I am and ever hope to be is my angel mother. Catherine Pulsifer was right when she said ‘Mothers never retire, no matter how old her children are she is always a Mom, always willing to encourage and help her children in any way she can’ I hope Mom to continue the family legacy with God above by my side I will not quit until my last breath for quitting wrinkles the soul and blur vision,” he concluded.
The Liberian Comparative and International Tax Lawyer was recently awarded membership at the International Fiscal Association (IFA),the world leading tax body, acclaimed for publishing fiscal and tax journals around the world.
He also holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Accounting/Economics from the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) in Liberia, and served over 4 years as Auditor & Senior Tax Associate at ‘’Parker & Company, LLC,’’ (a Certified Public Accountants & Business Advisors Firm). He served as Part-time lecturer at various universities in Liberia for Elements of Taxation course based on Liberia’s tax jurisdiction before moving to Sweden for his Master’s Program.
He is a certified tax practitioner of the Liberia Revenue Authority that is currently admitted in the Swedish tax jurisdiction, and confirmed as a member-based on his extraordinary & Academic performances at Uppsala University and with few professional ranking authorities in Sweden just in the short period during his studies.
See full text of his dedicatory message below.
A Special Dedication of my Legum Magister (LL.M or Master of Laws degree) To my Angel Mother Mary M. Senyon
We were two boys of our parents. Paul J. Senyon Jr and I grew up with the focus, determine and studious educational mindset. While in school before Model war in Zwedru 2003, I chose the path of becoming a special pioneer (Friends who know are Witnesses). I dare not continue after high school, which upset my brother many days. My older brother Paul J. Senyon Jr. was ambitious to climb the ladder as pacesetter bearing the family educational legacy since our parents were of the vision that education is the transformational path way.
It happens the early morning of March 2003 while enroute to school, we heard the heavy gun sounds, Zwedru was under attack. That morning while everyone was helter skelter because of the firing, my dad, my older brother, sisters’ children and I escaped in the surrounding villages close to Zwedru until the following morning. While making our way to Maryland close to a town called Gbarbo Town we landed in the midst of Charles Taylor rebels commonly called government troops, heading to Zwedru for counter attack with masks on their faces, we heard voices saying let’s not spare them for they are spies for Model forces. There was a guy amongst them who recognize us and said ‘’they are Jehovah’s Witnesses, I know this old man and his children.” He came hugging us, saying you have to go fast because any moment from now it will be a blood bath. Unfortunately, that fellow, our God given rescuer at that occasion did not survive the attacked in Zwedru.
Prior to this occurrence, there were several happenings in the 90’s where we could have been killed because of not speaking the Grebo dialect by Naroga (He was a general in River Gee area for Charles Taylor). My brother and I were several times caught because of not knowing the Grebo dialect for we were considered as krahn given the fact that we fled from Zwedru where we were born. So we have to live on the village of our grandmother in a town in River Gee called Putuken. This was how tribal the fourteenth years of civil war was.
As earlier mentioned after the encounter with the forces of Charles Taylor in 2003, we arrived in River Gee. I left my family and travel to the Ivory Coast Guiglo area for about two (2) years. While on the Refugees’ camp, in October 2005 I got a letter through Red Cross from my brother saying ‘’Rufus I have completed high school and heading to Monrovia. I am registering you at Zwedru Multilateral High, consider this as an urgency for your return to Liberia.’’ While preparing to come to Liberia, on November 23 early in the morning I was visited by a Jehovah’s Witness brother who started crying that ‘’I came to inform you about the death of your older brother three days ago, he was stabbed by an unknown person, I got the information but I was hesitant to inform you.’’ I couldn’t believe it. I got on my way that very day. That was how I left exile.
This untimely demise of my brother Up to date have led to my mother being a stroke patient since 2014. That death of my brother in Zwedru the early morning of November 20, 2005 which had never been given thorough investigation has up to today led to a severe emotional distress of my mom. She kept mourning the death of her beloved son Paul who was seen as the pillar, the leader and the pacesetter of the family.
Going forward, from time to time my parents had never stop reminding me that the burden is on me. Even after obtaining my Bachelor’s degree in 2012, I still heard the voice echoing behind me of my responsibility to inspire hope and soothe the pains of my mom. I know while I may not and can’t heal her wounds and pains, for only God does and is able, but can assuage the pains as she constantly say to me ‘’you bear the legacy of the family.’’ And so I dedicate my Legum Magister (Master of Laws) in Comparative and International Tax Law to my wonderful and all inspiring mom who never ceases praying for me even in her state of despair. All that I am and ever hope to be is my angel mother. Catherine Pulsifer was right when she said ‘’Mothers never retire, no matter how old her children are she is always a Mom, always willing to encourage and help her children in any way she can.’’ I hope mom to continue the family legacy with God above by my side I will not quit until my last breath for quitting wrinkles the soul and blur vision.