The Joy of College Graduation: A Spotlight on Isatou Sanneh and Aisha Conteh
Monday, July 1, 2013
After Graduation, Planning the Future
Happy Graduates: Isatou Sanneh, left, and Aisha Conteh
For friends Isatou Sanneh and Aisha Conteh, it is a big leap from Nasir Senior Secondary School in Basse to Navarro College in Corscicana, Texas, USA. They had to deal with the anxieties of having to live in a foreign country, far, far away from home. Additionally, they had to grapple with the rigors of college experience, far different from the relatively milder classroom challenges of secondary school in The Gambia. But at Navarro, a popular destination for many an aspiring Gambian student, the two college roommates gradually settled down, focusing on their educational goals. They, among a dozen or so Gambians in the US state of Texas, recently graduated from college. It is the end of one journey and the beginning of another.
The president of the Friends of Basse, Momodou Bilo Krubally, uncle to Aisha Conteh, and to Isatou Sanneh, through marriage, recently remarked on his Facebook page on the duo’s academic accomplishments: “Two years ago, I came to Dallas to welcome Aisha Conteh and drove her to Corsicana to attend Navarro College. The following semester, Isatou Sanneh joined her. Today, May 11, 2013, we are here to celebrate their certification/graduation, halfway towards their BA program. Looking back, the girls have matured, they are prettier, smarter, and wiser; and you can see and hear the confidence in their voices and actions. They both graduated with Honors and it goes without saying that their hard work has really paid off.”
My Basse editorial board asked the two friends to reflect on their college experiences and to think ahead on their long-term educational goals.
College Major: What did you graduate in?
Isatou Sanneh: I graduated with Associates in Business Administration.
Aisha Conteh: I graduated with Associates in Pre-Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
What interested you in that field?
Isatou Sanneh: Growing up as a child in Basse, I always wished and dreamt of having a career in the business field because business courses were my favorites during the time of my formal education, which interested me more to go into the business field. Also, my dad being a successful business man in Basse has always inspired me ... I look up to him, he is my role model and my mentor ... he has always been there to encourage me achieve my goals. When he realized that I had chosen business as my career, the first piece of advice he gave me was to be loyal, have good relations with the people and keep working hard at it as there is always high competition in the business field.
Aisha Conteh: I have loved nursing from childhood. When I reached secondary school, I came to realize that nursing was a noble profession to help the sick and the suffering and to save lives; this even gave me more courage to go in for it after my high school.
Was it a challenging experience … attending college?
Isatou Sanneh: Attending college was such an amazing experience, it really requires hard work but believe me if you are well determined, you will be able to make it. I always made sure that I did my assignments on time, being well focused in class and always study for my exams, because as we all know, being successful in this world requires lots of hard work, so it is the same for school.
Aisha Conteh: I can say it was challenging at the beginning because as you know our educational system in The Gambia is different from that of the U. S., but as time went by I adjusted and got used to the system with the help of my uncles and aunties, especially my uncle, Baba Krubally.
How do you feel about graduating?
Isatou Sanneh: I feel so delighted; sincerely at first, I did not take it that much serious … I was like, it’s just "Associates" but seriously, walking on that stage to collect my file on my graduation day made me feel so much grateful and appreciate the two years of my hard work.
Aisha Conteh: I am very happy that I was able to make it through college with no difficulties financially like most students face when they come to this country. As you know the tuition is very expensive but I thank God for everything. My uncles have been very supportive; they made sure I lacked nothing for all these years. I am so grateful for their help. My uncles Baba Krubally and his brothers were really, really generous and supportive. Their kinds are very hard to find these days.
The Reward for Hard Work
What is the secret to your achievement?
Isatou Sanneh: There is no secret, it’s all about hard work and determination. I never thought that I would get this far in education but with God, all things are possible. This one goes to my people of Basse: never say that you cannot do it! If I can do it, believe me, you all, my peers and everybody else, can do it as well. Also, my family is the best! I can say without them, this wouldn't have been possible ... they did an amazing job and I appreciate all the kind support and the encouragement to see me through college.
Aisha Conteh: Well, I will say hard work and determination. I spent a lot of time studying, doing assignments, researches, projects to make sure I kept up with my academic work and to keep my grades up. I did not let all the parties and fun in this country get into my head too much.
There are many Gambians attending your former college Navarro. Did you feel like living in that kind of an environment helped you with your college experience?
Isatou Sanneh: It feels great living with people that you share the same tradition and cultural norms with. I think nothing is better than that, as we all know Gambians are well known for their great hospitality. It was an amazing experience having your own people around you, who are always willing to help you out whenever the need arises. Going to college at Navarro is absolutely the best thing and I really enjoyed it.
Aisha Conteh: Yes it helped me a lot because when I came to Texas I did not feel the boredom of being in a foreign land and the Gambians at Navarro College always help each other especially new students in adapting to the system there, like, for instance, how to register for classes and finding an apartment to stay, etc.
Where do you go from here in terms of your long-term goals educationally?
Isatou Sanneh: I have already got admission to Sam Houston State University here in Texas; most probably, I will be there in the fall semester to pursue my goal in management information systems.
Aisha Conteh: From here I plan on going for my bachelor’s degree in Nursing, and I am not stopping until I get my PhD! "Inshallah".
Making Aunties Proud: l-r, Salimatou Jallow-Krubally, Isatou Sanneh, Aisha Conteh, Jacob Krubally-Touray