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Faiza Soumanou says after being born and raised in Africa, it was time for her to spread her wings and study someplace else other than at home. “I’m from Benin in West Africa and Benin is a former French colony and I decided to come to the U-S because I think the first reason is that I’ve lived in my country forever since I was born and I went to school there and I think that people need to go out a little bit out of their own environment and comfort zone, they have to go out and see what will happen so that is one reason why I came to the U-S and the other reason is that the United States is a very famous place for opportunity and anybody here can make it when you put the effort in,” she says.
“What I like here is that you meet people from every corner of the world, so that is another reason why I came here to study, but mostly, mostly the most important reason is there are many opportunities versus opportunities back home.”
Regarded as one of the nation's finest business schools,The McIntire School of Commerce is where Faiza is studying Accounting. This is her second year at UVA after transferring to the university from a community college and she says her classes at the university are going well. “I’m majoring accounting and I already love Accounting from the community college I had a good background in Accounting, I was doing good.I was doing good in all my classes, but I had a preference for Accounting because I am good with numbers and I am also good in reasoning and problem solving skills, so I decided to go into the Accounting profession,” she says.
“My classes are great. I love my professors. I love the way the classes are taught and I am doing good in all of the classes so far.I am taking three Accounting classes this semester and so far everything Is going great. I love it!
While working on her degree, Faiza says it is important to use her knowledge and skills in accounting to help other people. What I do right now at UVA is that I volunteer at the Bridging the Gap program which is a volunteering program at the Madison House and what they do is they kind of help refugee people in the Charlottesville area so what I do is that I have a teen assigned to me so I mentor that kid. I commit to spend three hours with the kid help them with homework and hanging out and teaching them about what it is like to be in the United States because some of the kids just got here so that is what I am doing right now and I am also planning to apply for a program which start in October and it is a tax program when you help people with lower income and unstable families in the Charlottesville area with tax preparation services and you do it for free, “she says.
“I’m taking a tax class this semester so I think it is a great fit for me I can use my knowledge to help other people.”
Faiza says she has noticed many changes in herself since transferring into UVA from a community college. “When I first transferred into UVA my first year was a little bit hard for me, but I’ve grown so much because I have learned to trust myself and my results have shown me that I push really hard to be where I am and I’m really confident now and another thing I try is to be more outgoing and to go get things and not wait for them to come to me, so this is why I’ve really changed since being at UVA,” she says.
“I’m more independent and I can do projects so I have learned a lot. My writing, typing and communication skills have improved as well so these are things that I am really proud of.”
However, there are a few barriers Faiza says she is still working on. “What happens is when you get here and you have an accent, people think that just because you have an accent that you can’t think well and that you are not able to perform as well as native Americans, so apart from that you also have different types of culture because when people speak for example sometimes I find like my peers I find what they say to be irrelevant to me because I haven’t got a clue or been through the experience they are going through. Sometimes I can’t even understand what they are saying because you have to be part of that culture to be able to understand what they are saying so it is that barrier that I am trying to move, so I’ve been in the country for a while now, but I’m still working on it.
Next year Faiza will graduate. After that she says… “I’m graduating this coming May 2010, but I am planning to stay for the graduate program at the McIntire School of Commerce, they have a program in Master’s in Accounting, it is one year so I am planning to go for that master’s in Accounting.”