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Life-Threatening Journey Fueled by Quest for Freedom

July 30, 2018

Sydney Ocran

Photo courtesy of Sydney Ocran

What if, at 13 years old, you had to flee your home due to a civil war, board a ship sailing to a foreign country and start a new life not knowing what the future had in store?

That is exactly what FedEx Ground team member Sydney Ocran experienced. His quest for freedom fueled a life-threatening journey from Liberia to the United States.

Overcoming the Impossible: At Sea and Then a Refugee

Ocran grew up in West Africa, but his circumstances quickly changed when a civil war erupted in Liberia. Separated from his family amidst the turmoil and bombings, Ocran fled to the Freeport of Monrovia in Liberia and hid inside a cargo ship.

The ship sailed the following morning with thousands of refugees onboard.

“I remember seeing people buried at sea and quickly realized that I had to fend for myself since I had no food and water for three days. I was weak, hungry, and thirsty, which put me in survival mode. I went from living to existing.”

The ship reached the coast of Ghana three days later.

Ocran survived the difficult moments by remembering his grandmother’s last words and the values she instilled in him as a child in Liberia.

“She told me to appreciate life,” he said. “Love, learn and never give up on your dreams. Never compromise your freedom and integrity. Always know that there is one thing that cannot be incarcerated: your imagination.”

Ocran spent the next eight years in a refugee camp in Ghana, where he married and had two children. He provided for his family with little to no access to basic life necessities. In constant search of ways to improve his situation, Ocran came across something that gave him a glimmer of hope: the United Nations was providing scholarships to refugees. Those who passed an exam would be granted the opportunity to study in another country. Ocran took the exam, but didn’t pass on his first try.

He held on to the belief that something better awaited him, so he tried again. This time he passed and received a chance to study in Russia. He arrived in Moscow with just $5 in his pocket and was told no additional financial assistance would be provided. Ocran saw this as just another challenge he knew he could overcome. He remembered what his grandmother taught him: failure was not an option.

Bringing Life Lessons to FedEx

Sydney Ocran

Photo courtesy of Sydney Ocran

Sydney has since received a doctorate from the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia and has worked as a professor, journalist, manager, social worker and, most recently, talent acquisition coordinator for FedEx Ground. He reflects on his achievements and continued growth by providing opportunities to people in his community.

Ocran said his life experiences have given him the ability to understand the value of people and building healthy relationships. His job at FedEx runs deeper than bringing new talent through the door. Ocran relates with others by sharing his journey and what FedEx has meant to him.

“I try in every possible way to understand the struggle of every individual I meet and ensure them that FedEx is not just a job but also a window of opportunity,” Ocran said.

“You see, the beauty of life is that, if you stop trying, you will fail, but if you keep trying with perseverance, determination and hard work, you are bound to succeed.”


    Sharon Hennessee says:

    Inspiring! Thank you for sharing your journey.

    Gwen says:

    Keep up the good work Ocran. Your Grandmother instilled into life – a life you can live and live for your 2 young ones and others as well.

    Odessa Brown-Davis says:

    Your story is simply amazing! Your success is an example to people of all races, creeds and ethnicities of what perseverance and determination look like. You are a symbol of hope, and I applaud you for being committed to yourself and your Family! Grandmothers are always right.

    Imma Plutt says:

    What a touching story. Believing and following your dreams is true!

    Cynthia Moore says:

    ALL things are possible. I admire your perseverance, tenacity and strength. Your story should become a novel as well as a Lifetime movie!

    Artis says:

    All I can is “WOW”… Thank you for sharing this inspiration of LIFE!!! I can imagine how many others are on the receiving end of YOUR blessings!

    nancy rodriguez says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your remarkable life story. Your Grandmother instilled in you a life long lesson in living life to the fullest. Thank you again!!

    Susan Bailey says:

    Your story and approach to life are inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

    Betty Kennon says:

    Sydney, you are armed and dangerous with love, knowledge and determination. Please use it wisely and application is key !!!!!
    Betty Kennon

    Anonymous says:

    As a Ghanaian I know and understand exactly what Sydney you went through. All the odds were against you but you persevered and went above and beyond to overcome every obstacle on your way. You are an over achiever and a dreamer. The sky is your limit. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Sandra Neely Brown says:

    Ocran,you are a prime example of “pressing on”. Your life story is so inspiring.

    John Franklin says:

    WOW, never give up. very touching story. Kudos sir

    Mischelle Kelley says:

    I ask God to bring people in my life that will be a blessing to me, whilst also allowing me to be a blessing to others. My blessing for you Ocran is that FedEx place you on a roster. From time to time FedEx invites people to speak/educate/inform their employees on different topics and it’s usually at the Hackscross location. Your story is crucial. I think that it would be an honor to have you come and speak to the hard working employees that work in the Memphis “Hub”. Your story has ignited a fire inside of me. Thank You and be blessed. I LOVE these types of stories…keep bringing them!

    Nita Mckay says:

    Reading this story reminds me of how Truly Blessed we are. Very inspiring, I can’t wait to share with my children. You exceeded your expectations!!!

    Jillian Palumbo says:

    What an incredible and inspiring story. Thanks for reminding us how truly blessed we are, and that with determination, perseverance and hard work, anything is possible!

    Lauretta Allen says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is truly inspiring. I always try to treat people the way that I would like to be treated because you never know what someone is going through. Reading your story has made me think about life in a positive way. I need to believe and follow my dreams. Thank you again for sharing your life story.

    Mary says:

    God bless you – how incredibly awesome. WE are SO LUCKY to have you!

    Cassandra Carter-Price says:

    Incredible journey for an incredible young man. This story should be told over and over again to quicken the souls of others. This story challenges our thoughts and perceptions.

    Sydney says:

    Hi Sharon,

    Thanks for you comment.

    Sydney says:

    Hello Gwen,
    Thank you so much for such kind words. I appreciate your comment.

    Sydney says:

    Thanks for your comment Odessa, I am honored.

    Sydney says:

    Hi Imma,
    Thanks for commenting.

    Sydney says:

    Thanks for your comment Cynthia.

    Sydney says:

    Thank you Nancy.

    Sydney says:

    I am honored Susan.
    Thank you!

    Sydney says:

    I appreciate your comment.
    Thank you so much.

    Sydney says:

    Thanks, Sandra!

    Sydney says:

    Thank you John!

    Anonymous says:

    Hello Mischelle,

    Thank you so much for your comment. I am honored. I do not mind speaking at your “HUB” if the opportunity arises. I am happy that you are also a blessing to others and I look forward to visiting Memphis’ HUB one of these days.

    Stay Blessed.

    Sydney says:

    Hi Nita,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Anonymous says:

    What an inspiring story! Thank you for sharing your life journey with all of us.

    Deidre Thompson says:

    Incredibly inspiring. It would be an honor to hear this live. I’m sharing with my team.

    anonymous says:

    What’s an amazing story! Thank you for sharing your life story with all of us. Much appreciated.

    angela says:

    This is very inspirational and uplifting. I would like to share your story with my children. I am happy to see that you have overcome so many obstacles.
    Be Blessed

    Kwame Arhin says:

    You are a living example of the saying “life is war”. You fought it and you have won. Congratulations.

    Olaf says:

    I am deeply touched about your story. And yes for sure your great grandmother gave you the best advice and guidance. And yes never forget where you came from and never stop imagination.

    Mechele says:

    God’s blessings on your life. Very inspiring. Talking about perseverance, your Grandmother’s words kept you faithful.

    Carol-Ann Mason says:

    You are a living testimony of HIS goodness! And what a way to be a blessing by sharing your story with others! Wonderful read.

    Vanessa Guice says:

    Very encouraging.

    Rose Booker says:

    What an Amazing life story! Thank you for allowing us to see through your vivid eyes of a life’s journey.

    Sondra says:

    Thank you for Sharing


    Tawana Brinson-Retic says:

    Encouraging & very inspiring story!!Stay blessed.

    Sandy Jacobs says:

    Powerful,Impactful, Inspirational

    Rosie Odum says:

    Very encouraging and great to read about your success. Continue to strive….

    Genevieve Estes says:

    Sydney, Your story as a refugee and immigrant is inspiring in and of itself; but, especially during these times when immigrants are judged negatively. I’m proud to work for a company that employs so many immigrants and I’m equally as proud working beside immigrant country men and women. May your light burn bright and long!

    Veronica Cruz says:

    Amazing and inspirational!

    Ashley Boykin says:

    Sydney, your story is very inspirational and distills much courage and hope. A story many other FedEx employees should certainly hear! It’s a reminder to never give up, never stop learning and never stop growing.

    Tracey Swan says:

    Awesome… keep up the good work

    beham says:

    is a blessing very encouraging strong will power god bless you

    Lou Tharayil says:

    Its so inspiring may GOD bless you

    Anonymous says:

    This is one of the most touching and most courageous stories ever told. The old cliche “where there is a will, there is a way”, has never been more true. The world needs more people like you to help inspire the downtrodden. I am close to tears. Thanks for telling your story.

    Rebecca Johnson says:

    What an inspiring story. God bless you for your perseverance!

    Julie Wiley says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and what a great story of ambition, motivation and striving to do better, be better.

    Ramona says:

    I admire your tenacity and achievements. Many congratulations. Thank you for sharing your journey and story. Your quote is is a wonderful quote for the journeys through life.
    “You see, the beauty of life is that, if you stop trying, you will fail, but if you keep trying with perseverance, determination and hard work, you are bound to succeed.”

    Sara G says:

    What a great feature of a fantastic individual! Thank You, Sydney for sharing your story. I can tell from the comments that so many people, including myself, have been encouraged by your personal journey and strength of conviction. I truly believe that opportunity and education are keystones for success. It’s great to see that still rings true.

    All the best.

    Abigail Wilkins says:

    Sydney, as a fellow Liberian, I can relate. Congratulations. You are an inspiration to all Liberians, especially our younger generation. Possibilities are endless if and when we do not allow our circumstances to determine our worth.

    Hoshi Satpatiwala says:

    Thank you for sharing your amazing life journey its real inspiring ,you lighting a spark in all of us .

    Peter Zabriskie says:

    To have wonderful words from a Grandmother to believe in can be a rare gift in the world. Thank you Ocran for sharing with us.

    felix rodriguez says:

    I guess there is always HOPE, when it seems there is none. Very inspiring

    Mary Jo Harmon says:

    With a grandmother like that, how could you not succeed. I am most struck that it was in the midst of refugee camp that you found love, companionship. I needed this story very much on a Monday morning. Ashe

    Moghes Woldehaimanot says:

    congratulations to you and to the management who gave you the opportunity and understood your value to FedEx and your potential!!!

    CHAMARAJ.S says:

    Congratulations to you and your story is lesson for others

    Sandra says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. It was so inspiring and teaches us to never give up on our dreams. Your grandmother’s wisdom was life changing for you but I am sure it will help many others who read your story too. What a journey…you have inspired many. God Bless you and your family with special blessings.

    Rosa Jimenez says:

    You are an inspiration!

    John Gavin says:

    Keep up the good work. The future is bright for y9u!

    Amy says:

    Wow amazing! Thank you for sharing your story!

    T. M. says:

    Blessings to you, Ocran! Your success story has tremendously blessed me, and encouraged me all the more!

    Aicha says:

    Wow! My fellow West African! As a Guinean I understand respect your journey and story. Its the story of many people in Africa, like my father! Keep up the ambition! Peace and blessing to you and your family.

    Carole Johnson says:

    What a heart warming story. Your journey has brought tears to my eyes. Your story give hope and shows that with hard work and perseverance the sky’s are limits. I’m very blessed in what your grandma instilled in you. Pure wisdom. Thanks for sharing your story God bless you.

    Lataurus Dewitt says:

    Very Inspirational! Thank you for telling us your story.

    Anonymous says:

    Touching story never give up!

    Amina Mouhaidine says:

    Such an inspiring story with so much to learn from! Thank you 🙂

    Eva Byrd says:

    Beautiful testament of humankind. You’ve proved that life’s struggles and disappointments can definitely become victories and accomplishments with will and determination. Truly honored that you’re a part of the FEDEX team.

    David Selepack says:

    You are a very brave man and a awesome father,may peace be with you and you family,God Bless you and your family.

    Auston says:

    Not sure what led me here, but your belief and a wonderful grandmother along with loads of determination… make for true inspiration.

    T. Swift says:

    Very inspiring story!!!

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