As the Light the Way Campaign continues, we asked international students to share their Spartan Story during International Education Week. Here are some of their amazing stories.

I came to UNCG with a desire to pursue my master’s in Information Technology and Management. Leaving my parents back home was one of the toughest things for me while traveling to the United States. Moving to the states amid a pandemic wasn’t a great experience. I have been through anxiety and loneliness for various reasons— some of them were due to the transition from one country to another, not being able to meet anyone due to the pandemic, missing friends and family back in the home country, etc. Given the circumstances, most of us have been through something like this. But, I was always very grateful for UNCG, and the opportunity of being able to pursue higher studies in the United States of America, a privilege not everyone has. I always kept reminding myself of the very purpose of coming here and worked hard despite my circumstances and situations. It helped me overcome my fears and insecurities. This experience has turned me to be an overcomer, a much stronger person than I was back in my home country. 

My favorite thing about UNCG is its faculty. I believe we have the best faculty. Everyone I have met so far is extremely hardworking, and they always wanted to get the best out of us. They’re very inspiring. I have high regard for all the faculty and staff at UNCG who are striving every day to give us the best quality education and experience. 

One of the biggest lessons I learned recently is that “Complaining and comparing steals one’s joy”. They never let us be happy, grateful, or content with what we have. Being motivated, inspired, and learning from others is good, but complaining about what we don’t have and comparing our lives with others isn’t a good idea; by doing that we are only hurting ourselves. We are all made uniquely, blessed with unique gifts and talents, skills, and ambitions. We all have different purposes in life. We are on our path to success, only if we focus on our journey without complaining and comparing and by making progress every single day. – Susanna Murumalla





My journey to the United States of America was conceived immediately I finished my Master’s degree program at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria in 2015. I told myself “I AM DONE STUDYING IN NIGERIA”. I cannot obtain my BS, MS and PhD degrees from the same university, same department and with the same set of professors. “Ayeni” – as I often fondly called and inspired myself – “it is time to go outside of  

your comfort zone and experience a new life elsewhere”, I challenged myself – even though I had no inkling of how to go about it. Comfort zone? Yes – I finished atop of the class as the best graduating student from the department during my first and second degree programs respectively! I was not also ready to lower my academic profile because the University of Ibadan is Nigeria’s first and best. Note, this is purely personal, and I would remain eternally grateful to all my Alma Maters and professors- past and present for always showing me the way.  

I took and passed all the necessary examinations, and as prudence would shine on me, I received with glee, my best ever e mail from the Graduate School, informing me of my admission into the PhD program of the Department of Geography, Environment and Sustainability with full tuition waiver plus teaching assistantship offer, sometime in February, 2020. I went to bed that night without food because I was over joyful. I was to resume for my studies in Fall 2020 but the deadly Corona virus pandemic struck and the world was literally closed down. However, with the help of the Graduate School at UNCG, my Advisor- Dr. Dan Royall, and Dr. Selima Sultana, the then Director of Graduate Studies in my department, I deferred my resumption till Spring 2021. And in December 2020, the son of a shoe cobbler finally boarded the airplane for the first time, and he flew to the United States. Bidding my cherished family members good-bye at the airport was indeed a tough moment for me. In all, any delay is not a denial. Do not let your current circumstance and socio economic backgrounds stop you from fulfilling your set goal(s). 

Settling down was very easy for me because I had a number of Nigerians on UNCG Campus. They did everything for me and even accommodated me for few days before I moved to my own apartment. Since then, my life has changed positively. My professors have never disappointed me as they have shown great depth of knowledge and professionalism in their various fields. What about the facilities in my department-top-notch Geographic Information Science laboratory, serene environment, diversity amongst the students, my equipped office, Regolith laboratory? The list is endless! A slow and steady night-drive in and around the UNCG Campus would reveal its beauty and greatness as a 21st citadel of learning. I cannot easily forget the pantry on campus where I pick free food items every week! What about our precious library that provides all the books and journal articles I need! A big salute to all the guys working in 6Tech. True, the proof of pudding is in the eating! If you are not here, you are nowhere! UNCG is my home after home! I am proudly Spartan!- Shamusideen Ayeni





The interest to be better, do better, see, experience the world and other cultures was the main motivation in leaving my Country to UNCG. It was a little bit difficult deciding to leave because of the special bond I have with my parents and siblings. It was a lot of emotions leaving the familiar environment, people, food and everything I grew up in and with to a ‘strange’ land. Getting here was a bit of a struggle in itself, I tested positive for the covid19 few days to my intended date of travel, I had to reschedule my trip, be on admission and that was a really stressful period of my life but I had my family with me, which made it somewhat bearable.  

Settling down here, I’ve met some really kind hearted people, especially my advisors, they’ve been very helpful. I remember walking into Tuisha’s office and just started crying, she made me feel very comfortable and I was smiling in few minutes. I love my lecturers, you can obviously see they enable us to succeed. They are accessible and easy to talk to. What I love most about UNCG is the fact that everyone is willing to help, there are materials, seminars, mentors and so on, to help along the way. I would advise fellow international students/scholars to be open minded and try to integrate as much as they can. It’s a work in progress but I’m really glad I made this decision.- Olayemi Olofin




What brought me to UNCG was mainly the fact that my home university had a few partnerships with some American schools and I thought that this one, due to it’s location, it’s diversity, it’s campus infrastructure and academic level, was the suitable one for me. Moreover, I had been in touch with an Uruguayan girl that studied in the same university as I am studying and who did an exchange at UNCG and she was really happy with the experience. 

My major worries before coming to the US were literally being home sick and missing my family and friends, which did not happen at least in a serious way. Although there were not many roadblocks in order to come to UNCG to study, I feel that the process of application was somewhat overwhelming due to the requirements of the US Department of State and other official institutions to come to this country.  

I will definitely take away from my experience at UNCG the marvelous and outstanding people that I have met here, and that became my friends in a short period of time. Also, the things that I’ve learned in the different courses that I took, that I feel had contributed to my wisdom. Furthermore, having improved my english is one of the things that I value the most as well as meeting people from different countries, cultures and races.  My favorite thing about UNCG was the charm that the people here posses and living the American way of life in a campus that offers students a myriad of opportunities. 

To any other student that may be willing to come to UNCG, I would absolutely tell him/her to COME. I am so thankful and grateful with the decision I took to come here that I feel that no one would regret doing so. This is an amazing university which offers it’s students everything they need to succeed and have a great time while being here. I couldn’t find any aspect of it that would hold someone back from coming. – Juan Ignacio Berro