Fakira Soumaila has always had a desire to become a pediatrician. She is attending Valley City State University in North Dakota to work towards her dream career. “I am originally from Niger in Africa that is where I was born and I was raised in Italy this is where I grew up in Rome since I was seven years old and I decided to come to the United States because the education here is very good and I heard a lot of good things about the medical school as I am a medical student I have always wanted to be a pediatrician and this is what I want to do after I graduate from college,” she says.
“I am attending Valley City State University which is a college in North Dakota. I choose this college because it is in a small community, it is a very small college there is about one thousand students here and my parents and I thought it would be a very good idea to attend this college so I would not be lost coming here as a foreign student and also because when I came here my English wasn’t that good so I needed to be in a place where I would be able to integrate fast and learn fast.”
Fakira's major is Health Science. She says many of her classes like Human Anatomy and Physiology, Zoology and Micro-Biology to name a few are courses she needs to be able to work in the medical field, but no matter how challenging the classes are, Fakira says she is glad to be at Valley City State University. “Well, it’s been a really great experience since I have been here. My first year went very fine.I made friends very easily. I lived on campus so it was very fast integration,” she says.
“After my first semester my English got a lot better and all my teachers knew that I was an international student and the teachers take really good care of us here and you get to have a lot of one to one with teachers and there is a lot of people here at the college and in the community that are willing to help the international students integrate, help us feel like we are at home and I can say that is has been really great experience I have made friendships and I am really glad that I am here.”
One memorable experience since Fakira says she had since being away from home is... “Meeting one of my really good friends family she took me home with her last year for Thanksgiving as I didn’t have anywhere to go and I would have just stayed on campus here by myself so she proposed to me to come home with her so I went and her family was very welcoming and she has two little brothers and an older sister. They were all very happy to meet me and I felt like I was at home,” she says. “They took really good care of me. So I have to say that this was one of my really good experiences because it just proved that even though I was far from home, there are still people here that cared for me and that everybody is human really everywhere.”
Although studying is the priority, Fakira says having time for leisure is also essential. “I like to sing, listen to music a lot, I sing even though I don’t take voice lessons and I like to watch a lot of documentaries on TV,” she says. “I watch ‘The Learning Channel’ (TLC) a lot and I watch a lot of medical documentaries and I like to cook and spend time with my friends.We do movie night or pizza night and things like that.”
Fakira has a while to go before she graduates.Her plans after are.... “I will graduate in two years. This is my sophomore year so I have two more years and once I graduate hopefully I am planning to go to a medical school, I don’t know yet which one but, this is what I am hoping to do.”
Her advice to others interested in studying in the United States...... “Well, I will tell them first of all if they don’t feel that comfortable going to a big school at first, they can start like me in a smaller college and I think that is the best for us really especially if English is not your first language and you don’t know anybody here. I think being in a smaller community is very good for you in terms of integration and also I think when they are choosing their college, they have to make sure they choose colleges where the teachers are really into the students and that they can get all the attention and care that you need.”