Today we speak with Tsion Abay, a sophomore biochemistry major originally from Ethiopia, who commutes to Rowan from Williamstown, Gloucester County. Tsion shares her #PROFspective with us on with us on what it’s like to be a Rowan University international student and how she’s getting the most out of her college experience as a Rowan Prof.
Name: Tsion Abay
Major: Biochemistry within the College of Science and Mathematics
Minors or concentrations: Pre-Med Concentration
Hometown and County: I am from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but two years ago I moved to Williamstown, NJ
Commuter: Yes, I commute from home.
Do you work on campus? Yes. I recently got a job at the International Admissions Office
Why did you choose your major? Because I have always been dedicated to helping people and by being a doctor I hope to save many lives in developing countries and areas that have very little/no access to healthcare.
One reason why you chose Rowan? I chose Rowan because of the small class sizes and the diversity on campus. It is also very close to where my family lives.
My typical day at Rowan:
You can call me an early bird, but believe me, if I ever have a chance to sleep till noon, I’ll take it. I just find myself more proactive in the morning. That’s why I mostly wake up at 6:30 a.m., get ready, eat breakfast, leave my house around 7:30 a.m. and head to Rowan. I always get on campus a little earlier than 8 a.m., regardless of what classes I have, because I want to get all of my work done. Plus the parking lot is usually almost deserted at that time, and I can easily find the best spot.
This semester, Wednesdays and Mondays seem to be my busiest days. I have my first class at 8 a.m. till 10:45, which is my Physics Lab. It’s brutal to have a lab at 8 a.m., because I’m half asleep. But, I like the class. Sometimes, we finish early or stay till the very end: it all depends on how fast I finish my lab assignments.
My next class doesn’t start until 12:30, so I use this spare time working on my lab report that is due next class. I like to study in Science Hall. Rowan has very comfy study nooks on the first floor of Science Hall, where I can plug in my laptop, gather with my friends and work on my homework. But if I need to print something out I go to the library or study at James Hall, where my next class is.
From 12:30 to 1:45, I have Being an American class. So far, we have been discussing politics, because it’s a hot topic right now, and later on we’ll talk about culture and democracy. Open discussion is what makes this class interesting. I get a chance to express my thoughts and feelings about various events covered.
I recently got a job at the Admissions Office. I work 20 hours a week in the International Admissions Office. Mostly, I help out Kesi with her international travels, as she is the Assistant Director of International Admissions and represents Rowan University all over the world. So I sometimes work in between my classes, or if I have time I hit the gym. I try to work out at the Rec Center whenever I can. Typically, I attend fitness group classes, like Zumba or Cycling. I like Zumba classes, they are fun and I don’t feel like I’m actually working out.
After that, I sometimes do my homework, or head to Wilson Hall to play the piano. I never played for a big crowd, but I really enjoy playing it just for myself. I like to stay in the practice room for about an hour or so, unless I have my MAPS club meeting that day. Since I recently changed my major, I decided to join MAPS club. My freshman year I visited a lot of their meetings, but now I want to get more involved in this club.
But when I was an Electrical and Computer Engineering major, I was a part of Women in Engineering club. I believe in empowered women pursuing STEM degrees. And in fall 2016, I got a chance to visit a conference in Boston. The main mission of the event was empowering women in STEM careers and encouraging leadership skills. It was a great experience. I attended forums and met so many successful women, like CEOs of big companies, working in engineering and science fields.
Typically, if I have time, I go with my cousin to Wendy’s or Pizza Hut. They are both conveniently located close to the main campus. But if I’m having a busy day, then I just grab a bite at the coffee shop in Science Hall or James Hall, depending on where I’m planning to spend time getting ready for my last class: Biology Lab from 6 to 9 p.m. This semester we will be working with microscope a lot, which should be interesting.
Closer to the end of the semester, I am getting ready for my Global Ambassador presentations, that I will be showing to students from different countries. I work closely with Kesi, from the International Admissions Office, and she helps me to practice my speech. On my summer and winter breaks, I normally travel and give presentations about Rowan. So far I have only presented in Ethiopia. The presentation I did there went really well, and Rowan received many leads afterwards. I saw myself in all of those students. They are all very excited to come abroad and study. I honestly have a lot of fun doing it and looking forward to travel to another country to represent Rowan.
Story organized and photography by: Natalia Panfilova