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### Discovering a Supportive Community: International Graduate Student’s Experience at University of St. Thomas

“In Nigeria, there is an expectation that individuals should have a clear career path in mind from the outset,” he noted. “There is little room for changing majors; one must either start afresh or opt to leave college.”

Preferring not to disrupt his academic journey, Oshiomah successfully completed his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.

Post-graduation, Oshiomah’s professional trajectory deviated from his academic background. Initially venturing into the banking sector for a brief period, he later transitioned to roles more aligned with his interests. Serving as a technical assistant to the CEO at Workforce Group, a Nigerian company, Oshiomah delved into the realms of data analytics and digital marketing. Intrigued by these fields, he eagerly delved deeper into digital marketing, even taking on web development tasks for the company. His journey in digital marketing continued as he assumed positions such as web manager and advertising specialist at various organizations.

In the fall of 2022, Oshiomah made the decision to return to academia to pursue a degree in software engineering, aiming to broaden his expertise in areas like coding. During his research, he discovered the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

Victor Oshiomah (Mark Brown/University of St. Thomas)

Stating his reasons for choosing St. Thomas, Oshiomah emphasized the faculty’s expertise, the well-designed program structure, and the focus on accommodating career changers like himself in the software graduate programs.

In contrast to his undergraduate experience, Oshiomah appreciated the tailored classes and flexibility offered in his current academic pursuit. However, he found it challenging to establish a sense of community as a graduate student compared to the abundance of clubs and organizations available to undergraduates.

To address this gap, Oshiomah took on a leadership role to foster connections among graduate students, particularly international peers, creating an informal group where students could bond over activities like soccer breaks or stay connected through platforms like WhatsApp.

Additionally, Oshiomah became involved in the campus fellowship group, Chi Alpha, aligning with his faith background as the son of a pastor who had been actively engaged in worship music during his youth. Through Chi Alpha, he found a supportive community for worship, prayer, and camaraderie with like-minded individuals sharing his faith and musical interests.

Expressing the importance of nurturing his faith community, Oshiomah highlighted the significance of learning from others’ experiences and teachings within a supportive environment.

Apart from his academic pursuits, Oshiomah serves as a graduate student assistant for his academic advisors, addressing inquiries from current and prospective students while maintaining the university’s intranet system.

“Victor’s vibrant personality is truly contagious,” remarked Laurie DuPont, the assistant director of academic operations and academic adviser for Graduate Engineering and Software. “His self-sufficiency and willingness to assist others make him a valuable asset to our team.”

Oshiomah is set to graduate with a degree in software engineering in December 2024.

“Victor shows great promise as a software engineer, and it has been a pleasure to witness his growth during his time at St. Thomas,” noted Crystal Conway, the assistant director of academic operations and academic adviser for Graduate Engineering and Software. “His enthusiasm for seeking meaningful professional challenges and applying his skills to make a difference will undoubtedly benefit any sector fortunate enough to have him.”

Offering advice to fellow international or returning students, Oshiomah encourages them to seize opportunities and pursue their dreams fearlessly, emphasizing the importance of utilizing available resources and seeking guidance, particularly for international students.