International graduate finds community far from home

Amal MuselmaniAmal Muselmani grew up in a small, quiet town in Nigeria, where vendors offer their wares to those passing by and people wait patiently for cows to cross the street before continuing down the road.

“Waiting for the cows was a little like how we wait for the geese on campus,” she laughed. “I didn’t really appreciate or know how simple and beautiful Nigeria and life there was until I came to Canada for a visit and realized how different it is.”

Although she still visits every summer, Muselmani now calls Canada home. She made the difficult choice to leave her family and her hometown to come to Canada as an international student in 2015.

“It was a last-minute decision for me to come to London and Western,” said Muselmani, who completed her Bachelor of Health Sciences and will graduate this June. “I only applied because my mom’s brother was doing his PhD at Western and I could live with him. It was really my only choice.”

Now as her undergraduate career is ending, she is grateful she made that decision.

“The last four years have been the best of my life. As we got closer to the end of the year, I kept hoping time could slow down. I was very emotional that it was ending.”

While at Western, Muselmani devoted much of her time to campus initiatives, including the University Students’ Council’s Peer Support Program, Foot Patrol, the Health Studies Students’ Association and Western International’s Peer Guide Program. Many of the programs she volunteered with offered her the opportunity to mentor new students, help them feel comfortable at Western and encourage them to also explore ways to become a part of the campus and community communities.

“I like doing things that have an impact on others,” she said. “It wasn’t until third year that I really got involved in everything I could, though. I wish I could go back and become involved from first year. The people I met and worked with made the experience so amazing. Every program I participated in there was someone special.”

Although her undergraduate career may be over, Muselmani says she may not be finished with university. Her goal is to apply to dental school in the future, after spending some time working and, hopefully, becoming eligible for permanent residency in Canada.

“I’ve wanted to be a dentist since high school. I actually love going to the dentist,” she laughed. “But, a year of dental school for an international student can cost almost $100,000, so I’m hoping to find a job in the health field or at a non-profit and settle in Canada permanently.”

Now that she has some time off from school, Muselmani also wants to enjoy the opportunity to spend time with loved ones and to have time for herself before embarking on her next adventure.

“I definitely have an idea of where I want to be in 10 years. I plan to be working and have a family of my own. I know dental school will be a long path and I won’t have my own time once I’m back in school for myself or the people I love.”

The sense of community she found and the connections she made while at Western will be things she will carry with her as she moves forward.

“I honestly couldn’t pick one favourite memory. I can only think of beautiful things when I think of Western. I met so many people who have influenced me. I wouldn’t change a single thing.”

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