Usher Hall ceremony is added to couple's list of October milestones

Date posted

27 October 2021


Beaming Elsie Francis today celebrated with her husband as she emulated his achievement of graduating from Edinburgh Napier – on their wedding anniversary.

Elsie collected her MSc in Business Information Technology 15 months after the university awarded her other half Bulabari an MBA in Leadership Practice.

But with his graduation ceremony being lost to Covid-19-related restrictions, like so many public events in 2020, they decided to turn her big day today at the Usher Hall into a joint celebration as they also marked 14 years of married life.The Francis Family outside the Usher Hall

Elsie said: “What a wonderful day this is. It was disappointing for Bulabari and other  2020 graduates not to be able to walk across the stage at the Usher Hall to get their degrees last year.

“But the way things have turned out we can now celebrate both of us becoming graduates on what was already a special date in our diaries!”

Elsie and Bulabari, of Kirkcaldy, Fife, first met in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, in October 2006 and were married there exactly one year later.

Bulabari was first to move to Scotland, to study for his MBA at Edinburgh Napier, in January 2018 while Elsie stayed in Nigeria to juggle her post-graduate studies with a busy job as an Executive Assistant and caring for their three children.

However, they all spent a wonderful family Christmas together in Scotland the following December and decided that was where their future lay.

Elsie said: “We decided I would not be going back to Nigeria. Career-wise it was a very difficult decision for me; however, in the end family and love won.”

At first Elsie stayed at their then home in Rosyth to look after the children while Bulabari continued with his studies, basing his dissertation on the use of digital marketing to promote small African businesses in Scotland.

Close-up of Elsie and Bulbari Francis in colourful clothing on their wedding day in Nigeria

She soon decided though that she wanted to build on her flair for IT and business and management experience by applying to study for an MSc in Business Information Technology.

Elsie, 40, said: “I chose Edinburgh Napier firstly because of my husband’s experience, but also because they offered the modules that suited my career goals, and naturally I got a lot of support from my husband since he already knew how to use all the online facilities.”

After completing his studies last year, Bulabari, 48, is now working as a Project Planning Specialist with an English-based gas distribution company.

Elsie had a part-time job as a customer service advisor with the Royal Voluntary Service while she studied, but now she too has finished her studies she is looking to pursue a career in Business Analysis.

Today’s Edinburgh Napier autumn graduation ceremony is the first to take place at the Usher Hall since the pandemic struck.

Elsie said: “October is a truly significant month for me, and for us as a couple. I was born in October. Bulabari and I first met in October. We got married in October. Now I am graduating in October with my husband and fellow Edinburgh Napier graduate at my side which really makes our story complete.”

The couple - whose children are Glenn, 13, Collins, 11, and Valerie, seven - are in no hurry to leave Scotland now they have completed their degrees. Bulabari said: “We have moved from Rosyth to Kirkcaldy but we really love it in Scotland and are looking forward to growing old together here.”