From Nigeria to Missouri, Meet Valentine Osakwe from Northwest Missouri State University
“Sometimes you need to follow your instinct and make your own way.” This is the story of how Valentine Osakwe found his dream university.
Valentine Osakwe is a 25-year-old freshman at Northwest Missouri State University pursuing a major in Computer Science. He grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and later moved to Anambra in the South East of Nigeria. The move was initiated in the beginning of his high-school year when his parents decided to send him to a local community high school, St Michael’s Boys Secondary School.
While in secondary school, Valentine joined EducationUSA, an organisation that promotes higher education at accredited post-secondary institutions in the US.
The Path To Northwest Missouri State University
Valentine’s advisers at EducationUSA encouraged him to research schools that offered degrees which were aligned with his interests. Northwest Missouri State University, and specifically its Computer Campus, caught his attention. In Nigeria, it is uncommon for schools to give out computers, and here was a University that provided all the necessary resources to its students including, but not limited to Notebooks.
At first, the Computer Campus, and being provided with the necessary resources seemed unreal to Valentine, but he decided to add the university to his list. Some of his peers tried to discourage him from applying to Northwest and instead encouraged him to apply to the universities they were going to, but Valentine took a chance and applied to Northwest Missouri State University anyway.
Valentine was fortunate enough to receive acceptances from five universities. So now he had the easy yet difficult task of finding a university that would be the right fit for him. He decided to reach out to all the universities and request for more information about the programmes that he was accepted for.
Dr. Hawley Douglas, the assistant professor for the School of Computer Science at Northwest Missouri State University answered Valentine’s request – and was the only person who responded to his query. This act of dedication gave Valentine a glimpse of how much the University cares about their students and helped him make up his mind that this would be the right university for him.
Life At Northwest Missouri State University
Northwest Missouri State University is located in Maryville, Missouri. Adjusting to being so far away from his family was one of Valentine’s biggest challenges after moving to Maryville. To try and overcome this, he joined various organisations such as the Student Senate, Resident Hall Council and the African Student Association. Immersing himself in these activities and meeting new people helped Valentine combat his homesickness. Other challenges that Valentine had to overcome was adapting to the culture shock; the food was different and because of the culture differences he had to err on the side of caution to make sure he didn’t say something that could be construed as offensive. Adjusting to the climate was also a challenge for him. But, he says, over time you get used to the weather and learn to adjust.
Valentine says, “My experience as an international student has been beyond imaginable. I tell people all the time that this is the best campus.” He explains that the University has many programmes via which students can socialise and make new friends. Valentine specifically mentions the International Coffee Hour and International Culture Talk which he says is a great place to meet new people and learn something new.
Valentine enjoys visiting the museums in the area during his spare time, he also visits his local grocer quite often, or has a quiet dinner at one of the charming restaurants in the vicinity. He has even visited the nearby states of Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas.
Why Northwest Missouri State University Is Great
One of the biggest strengths of the University, according to Valentine, is the relationship the faculty maintains with their students. “They care about the student’s well-being while at the University and even after.”
The University itself has a friendly atmosphere and offers academic and well-being support to students, and special programmes for international students to help integrate them into the community.
Academic support includes supplement instructions, tutoring sessions, a student advisement office and a career services office. Well-being support includes a wellness centre and free counselling. The International Office also arranges numerous events throughout the semester where international students can get to know the community.
The University is also currently running a ‘Career Pathing Programme’ to help prepare students for their life after university. In this programme, student are taught how to network and also provide them with other skills that will benefit them when they go out into the workforce. Students can also seek assistance from the Career Office to find a job or an internship.
The Road Ahead
“I love computers and feel that everything in the world today is going digital,” says Valentine. After finishing his degree, Valentine wants to complete his Masters in Software Development.
He would like to work towards opening his own software company, but until that time, he says he would like to work for Google or Microsoft.
Valentine has not looked back once after joining Northwest Missouri State University. He found a university that became a home away from home and where he can create the best future possible for himself.
If you are interested in applying to Northwest Missouri State University, check out its profile on SchoolApply and start your application right away!
About the Writer: Lizan Gray, an adventurer at heart, is originally from South Africa and currently a copywriter in Dubai. She is busy finishing her degree in Business Administration.