Frances Asuquo, Brice Karghoo and Pajani Soobrayen all had different reasons for coming to Memorial University.
But the three students – the first recipients of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences International Student Excellence Scholarship – all agree that their choice has been a positive one.
Ms. Asuquo, Mr. Karghoo and Mr. Soobrayen were each awarded the scholarship as part of the Dean’s List awards ceremony on Oct. 22, 2019.
The award is given for outstanding academic achievement and is meant to provide both an incentive for talented international students to apply to the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) and to encourage them to remain in the faculty and at Memorial University.
Fall 2019 was the first year the scholarship was awarded; the funds are renewable for the third and fourth years of study.
These first HSS International Student Excellence Scholarship recipients are three of the nearly 3,500 undergraduate and graduate international students at Memorial who have come to the school from nearly 100 countries around the world.
Close community, wide perspective
A global perspective for their studies is part of what drew the three students to Memorial.
Both Ms. Asuquo and Mr. Soobrayen are students in Memorial’s international bachelor of arts (iBA) program, which requires international studies and language courses and includes an exchange.
The iBA program itself is part of what attracted Ms. Asuquo, who is from Nigeria but attended high school in Brampton, Ont., to Memorial University.
“I looked at other universities and I felt like Memorial was the only one that was really pushing for exchange and encouraging it. I felt like other universities, you have to go to looking for it yourself,” said the political science and English major.
Political courses at Memorial have focused not only on Newfoundland and Labrador or Canada, but also include international perspectives that interest her, she says.
Ms. Asuquo is soon heading to Australia, where she will spend her exchange studying at Deakin University in Victoria. She is focusing on international politics and is looking forward to learning about political science at another school in a different part of the world. It’s a natural fit for a program that bills itself as the chance for students to take their degree global, she says.
“I want to learn about Australian politics from an Australian teacher in Australia,” she said.
Mr. Soobrayen will expand on his own interest in international politics at Memorial’s Harlow Campus this summer.
He learned about Memorial University while in high school in Mauritius, when he had the chance to do some work with a recruiting staffer from the university.
“Working with Anthony and helping him out, I obviously learned a lot about Memorial, which helped me to make my final decision,” said Mr. Soobrayen, who is majoring in political science and French.
The scholarship has made it much less stressful to plan his time studying abroad, Mr. Soobrayen says.
“It made my choice really easy. When we received the scholarship, that’s when I said, ‘Yeah, I’m definitely going.’”
It also helps to know that the courses they do abroad will count toward their degrees: the students won’t have to add time and cost to their programs because they have taken advantage of the opportunity to study in another part of the world.
“I’ll be right on track,” said Ms. Asuquo of her plan to spend a calendar year in Australia, where the academic year operates on a different semester system. “It won’t really add or take any time away.”
For Mr. Karghoo, who is studying business administration and English and works part time to contribute to his living expenses, he says the scholarship relieves his parents from the pressure of helping to fund his education.
He says having the scholarship means he can adjust his schedule around his academic work, and not the other way around.
Mr. Soobrayen and Mr. Karghoo are no strangers to travel – they both came to Memorial from Mauritius, where they attended high school together.
Memorial’s affordable tuition for international students was not the only factor in their decision to attend the school, both students say, but it was part of their considerations.
The response Mr. Soobrayen got from Memorial – the first to accept him of his several applications – also made a difference, he says.
“I got the most response here,” he said.
Before he even arrived in St. John’s, he says he felt that he was developing student-professor relationships with faculty members.
That early positive experience has continued.
All three students say that the mix of quality education, tight-knit community and international viewpoints have combined to make their time at Memorial one of great value, in more ways than one.