Angelina Ihejirika, 89, was born August 4, 1927. Educated by Catholic missionary nuns in Nigeria, she was among the first female students of the prestigious Cornelia Connelly College run by Irish and American nuns in that West African Country. She became a teacher, teaching at all girls Catholic elementary schools. On October 12, 1957, Angelina married fellow teacher Christopher Ihejirika, and the couple had five children. In December 1965, the couple agreed on Christopher accepting a scholarship to study at the University of Fourah Bay in Sierra Leone, neither of them knowing Angelina was pregnant with their sixth child. The Nigerian Biafran War erupted on July 6, 1967, severing all communication between seceding Biafra and the outside world, so that for nearly three years, neither of them knew if the other were alive or dead. During these horrific years, Angelina, a woman of great faith, strength and courage, would go to great lengths to protect her six small children from the massacres and mass starvation which marked the historically significant war. In fall 1968, an angel in the form of a nun, helped Angelina smuggle a letter outside of the country, through Europe to Sierra Leone. The letter would travel around the world to find Christopher at Evanston's Northwestern University. Christopher's own angels, a Northwestern professor and his wife, along with four other North Shore couples, would help Christopher locate his family, then negotiate with the Biafran government for their freedom. Angelina and her six children arrived in Chicago as war refugees on June 9, 1969. The reunited family was helped to settle on Chicago's Near South Side, eventually relocating to southwest suburban Woodridge, where the couple raised their now seven children. Christopher became a certified public accountant. Angelina worked many jobs to help support their large family — from a night waitress to nursing home aide, eventually becoming an entrepreneur, opening a store that sold African wear/artifacts. She earned an associate's degree in early childhood education at the College of Dupage, later earning her bachelor's degree in the field at Roosevelt University. Her teaching career spanned from 1949 to 1984. Her Husband passed in 1981. While in retirement, Angelina has been involved in humanitarian endeavors through "Voice Of A Woman For Humanity," the foundation she started in 1999. Through her organization, she has provided elementary and college scholarships to youth in Nigeria, and Catholic school scholarships to youth in Chicago; operated soup kitchens in Nigerian villages; and funded a water pipe project to bring running water to her own village. She has also hosts an annual Father's Day luncheon for Nigerian priests stationed throughout the Chicago area, and is active in the Chicago Archdiocese, including her own parish, Old St. Mary's, in downtown Chicago. The grandmother of nine and great-grandmother of one currently resides in the South Loop.
Maudlyne Ihejirika is a Chicago Sun-Times urban affairs reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in newspaper journalism, public relations and government. In 23 years with the Chicago Sun Times, she has served as an assistant city editor, covering beats from crime and inner city issues to housing, education, politics and philanthropy. Joining the Sun-Times in 1987, she was weekend city editor when she left in 1997 to work as Gov. Jim Edgar's press secretary for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. In 1999, she left state government to launch the Ihejirika Media and Communications Group, managing media operations for members of the U.S. Congress, Illinois Legislature and Chicago City Council. Returning to the Sun-Times in 2003, she has earned numerous citations, including the 2016 Chicago Defender Women of Excellence Award; and in 2015, the prestigious Studs Terkel Award, and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) first-place Salute to Excellence Award. She also earned first place NABJ awards in 2011 and 2014; the Vernon C. Jarret Par Excellence in Journalism Award in 2013; and two Society of Professional Journalists Peter Lisagor Awards in 2008. A frequent guest contributor of WTTW-TV's "Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review," Fox 32's "Good Day Chicago," and Vocalo Radio's "The Barbershop Show," she has appeared as an analyst on CNN, TV ONE, ABC-, and CBS-TV; as well as WBEZ-, WGN-,and V103-Radio. She is Vice President/Print of the NABJ-Chicago Chapter and on the board of directors of the Chicago Journalists Association. Other board memberships include the University of Iowa School Of Journalism and Mass Communications professional advisory board and Northwestern University's Council of 100.