The experience of being an international, first-generation student

Written by Graduate Ambassador Nouran Yonis
Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology
School of Medicine

Experiences and challenges shape people to become the best versions of themselves. Ever since I was a child, I imagined and desired excellence in everything I do, which I realized more than ten years ago when my family and I moved from Egypt to America. Joining a new school in a foreign country was one of the most important, most impactful transitions of my life. I recognized the obstacles and deliberately turned them into opportunities by engaging with new people from different nationalities and learning in a radically different atmosphere from the one I left in my homeland. At that point, I discovered that obstacles can be opportunities if we expand our horizon and open our perspective.

In this new education system, I found myself growing and changing. Just as I started adjusting to my new way of life, I moved back to Egypt and joined the top university in my country to study pharmacy. Then I decided to pursue my graduate studies at the American University in Cairo, which has given me the drive to further pursue my education in the United States. Despite COVID-19 and the difficulties of receiving a graduate education in the middle of a pandemic, the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Immunology (BMI) has always been a great support to me.

READ: Spotlight: Graduate Ambassador Nouran Yonis

Since my very first day, I discovered both the academic and social environments at WSU. Being in the heart of Detroit, Wayne State University is a unique place to attend. Diversity, a lively and cooperative atmosphere are hard to find in one place, but they all exist at WSU. I am proudest to belong to an academic and research university that allows me to learn and expand my skills in every way. I had the privilege to be a part of different organizations and event planning on campus, which gave me great opportunities to expand my skills and network with amazing people.

Being a daughter of a diplomat, I grew up feeling like an ambassador. I also believe that everyone is an ambassador, depending on what they represent. I was happy to be selected as a graduate ambassador for the School of Medicine this year so I can continue to represent my country, department, and university in a way that leaves a positive impact on the entire campus community. Being the first member of my family to pursue studies abroad, I am glad to become a role model to future generations, especially women who want to follow the same path.

Obtaining my Ph.D. degree will fulfill my short-term goals of conducting research in the field of molecular biology and genetics. Long-term, WSU will help me achieve my vision of continuing my career in academia and improving health and education.

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