Go to page content

‘Miracle I survived’

Fall graduate earns business degree after life-changing challenges

The Gazette’s latest special feature celebrates Memorial’s newest alumni.

By Susan White

Jannatul Alam left Bangladesh with a dream.

She wanted to earn a degree in another country. But she had no idea how difficult it would be or how much she would need the support of her new community at Memorial University to succeed.

“I decided to come to Memorial because I had the dream to pursue my higher education outside of my country to embrace the changes and broaden my horizon,” said Ms. Alam, who will collect her bachelor of business administration (BBA) degree at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre on Oct. 21.

“You get the opportunity [to] meet a lot of people from different nations [and] broaden your connections. This really goes a long way in life.”

Unexpected tragedy

Less than two months after arriving in St. John’s, her father died of a heart attack.

“Losing my dad, it put me in a huge pressure to cope with the mental stress and everything,” she said.

Although many people told her to go home to Dhaka as she tried to cope with her grief, she chose to stay in St. John’s and continue her studies — a decision that her mother and siblings supported.

“For me, I wanted to graduate on time or before time … No matter what happens.” — Jannatul Alam

“My family wanted my dream to come true,” she said. “My family’s constant support in encouraging me to stay here, and the support that I received from here, it helped me to navigate the challenges.”

Then, less than a year later, she faced another setback when she was hit by a car near Ropewalk Lane while crossing the road.

“The doctors were saying it’s a miracle I survived that,” Ms. Alam said. “This time, even my family was suggesting to me to drop a semester, go back home and spend some time with them.”

Perspective shift

But she was determined.

“For me, I wanted to graduate on time or before time … No matter what happens.”

Through both of these significant challenges, Ms. Alam completed all of her coursework without dropping a single class. She finished her degree in August.

Ms. Alam will have a second surgery this month to fix broken teeth resulting from the accident but, otherwise, she has no lingering physical ailments.

The accident changed her views on what’s really important in life.

“Before this accident, the perception about my life was that, without achievements, life doesn’t carry much value,” she said.

“Now it’s like, as long as you’re leading a decent life with a healthy body and stable mind, you have the privilege to wake up every day and see the world — that is really what success is. That is the greatest accomplishment of life.”

Support from Memorial community

Along with the unwavering support of her family, Ms. Alam credits the support of her professors at the Faculty of Business Administration, as well as services and assistance provided by Student Life, the Student Wellness and Counselling Centre and the Internationalization Office for helping her to achieve her dream.

“I had tremendous support from the Memorial community,” she said. “They helped me in every single way possible. It’s been a very wonderful experience.”

To receive news from Memorial in your inbox, subscribe to Gazette Now.

Class of 2021

Optimal learning

Doctor of pharmacy fall graduate gets out of comfort zone

‘Sense of community’

Marine Institute fall graduate guided by family, instructors and fellow students

‘Lucky I was’

PhD Medicine graduate finds Memorial supportive, 'serene and charming'

Future builder

Education graduate removing newcomers' language barrier

Health-care heroics

Pandemic image inspires spring nursing graduates to join front lines

Academic growth

Local dairy farm basis of Grenfell graduate's master's research