UNIVERSITY EDUCATION: Reaching the finish line

Students at South Australia’s Flinders University were awarded their well-earned Degrees at Graduation Day on Tuesday April 15, 2014. Graduates included 12 African students who celebrated this milestone event with their families, friends and fellow students.

SALT Magazine talked with one of the graduates, Sudanese born Emmanuel Morgan Aka Imah and asked about his journey to graduation and his plans
for the future.

“Finally graduating is a great feeling,” he said “It is a great vibe that you have achieved something after a long struggle. Being able to attend the lectures, having the opportunity to be exposed to so much information and knowledge and then gradually gain the understanding of the subject was a real eye opener.”

Imah is very optimistic about his job prospects. “I now have a BA in international relations, majoring in history, and I am continuing to do a law degree which is very challenging. I realise it’s not going to be easy but I am confident my qualifications will help me in the end.”

Juggling full time study while working to earn money is a challenge faced by many students, especially those from African background who may not be fully prepared for the rigorous nature of Australian universities. As Imah says, “Sometimes things get very tough. Go to work, go to Uni, come home, cook, do household chores – then study and get ready to do it all again tomorrow. Then there’s the worry about paying for rent, books, outings and so on – it puts a lot of pressure on someone.”

Studying with students whose first language is English can also be a big challenge for students from African backgrounds. “I’m not sure what can be done about it, because it is a massive problem and adds to the stress. As well, in Australia there’s not as much direct pressure on you to perform as there is back home. You are expected to monitor your own performance. Back home it was my parents who set the standard for me. This to me is a huge difference.”

Imah learned that life at Uni can be made easier by getting involved in activities and forming friendships. He said he has seen some overseas students “Shy away and not even try to get engaged in university because they believe they have nothing in common with other students. I think that should not be the case, we all have something to offer.”

Based on his own experience, Imah offers this advice to fellow Africans; “It is a very tough life and very demanding. You cannot approach Uni with a lazy attitude, and you must be prepared to join in and give your best effort.”

SALT Magazine congratulates all Flinders graduates on their achievements, and especially thanks Imah for sharing his thoughts with us.

SALT Magazine is an African-Australian Community News Magazine, created to provide print and online news and information on a broad range of issues of interest to the African community in Australia as well as to the wider general public. Our main aim is to act as a platform for the voice of the new and emerging African Australian communities, providing an African perspective to Australian topics. We wish to highlight African refugee success stories and encourage community development by exploring the challenges faced by new arrivals.

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