Meet Mary Gomez, an international freshman student from The Republic of The Gambia. This is her second semester at Rowan University. She is currently majoring in Community Health from the School of Health Professions. Today she will share with us her experience on becoming an international student and how Rowan has become her second home.
Name: Mary Gomez
Major: Community Health
Hometown: Washington Township
Academic clubs: African Student Association, Leadership Rowan and Public Health.
As an international student, where are you coming from? I’m from The Republic of The Gambia. We call it the smiling coast of Africa.
How did you hear about Rowan? My uncle works here, Dr. Banutu-Gomez, he’s a business professor. Last year, I was kind of confused on which schools to look into, and my mom was like ‘Oh, your uncle works at Rowan.’ He told us about Rowan, and then I started the application process.
Why did you choose to come to Rowan? First, I chose to come to Rowan because the application process was so easy to fill out. Other schools can be complicated and hard to know where to find information. Sometimes, you have to call 10 times just to talk to someone. But here, the application process was so easy to do. Every information I needed was online, like literally everything.
As an international student, you can imagine I can’t keep calling every time. They [Rowan] had the live chat right there, so I could talk to pretty much anyone. It’s pretty expensive to call from an international phone number to the U.S. so the live chat was perfect, and the people were so nice from the international center. I was like, ‘This is definitely the right school for me.’
What else caught your attention about Rowan? The school was pretty diverse. I’m from Africa and in Africa we always treat each other like family, and we are all about feeling welcomed. So, I wanted to be in a place where people were welcoming and where I wouldn’t feel left out.
Also, I’m a twin. So, I was looking for a school that had both majors we wanted. A major that would go into biochemistry for my sister and public health for me.
Tell us about one moment that made you feel like Rowan was the right fit for you. After I applied to Rowan and came here, I didn’t have any friends at all. But I got enrolled in this class called Rowan 101 and my professor was Jessica Syed. She basically made me fall in love with this school. In the class we had to go to five events and write about them. When I started going to these events, I got to meet so many people. And Professor Syed got people from the Rowan Leadership program to come talk to the class and from then I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the correct school for me,’ because I’m all about leadership and public speaking. And that’s when I knew Rowan was for me. I recommend any student that comes here to take Rowan 101.
Favorite thing about Rowan? One thing I like about Rowan is that you can go to any event, and if you don’t know anyone at the event you come back knowing about 10 people. There was one time I went to this event, I think the African Student Association hosted it, I didn’t know anyone — at the end of the day I knew like 10 different people. I didn’t feel like an international student anymore. Everyone is included here; all the opportunities are for everyone.
What’s your biggest life goal? Since I’m studying public health, my biggest life goal is to be able to change the healthcare system in my country. I want an institution where no one has to say ‘I’m not going to the hospital because I don’t have money.’ I don’t want money to be the reason why people don’t have access to healthcare. Afterwards, I want to go into global health and probably work with the United Nations and improve the healthcare system at large, so after helping my country I want to go bigger.
Any advice for international students? I would tell them not to be afraid to ask questions. That’s one limitation I used to have during my first weeks. I used to worry about what people would think if I was asking a question, but don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask as many questions as you can. And for your accent, don’t let your accent be a barrier and don’t ever worry about how you speak. Nobody really cares, as far as you can get your information out there.
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Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major