Student Shares Journey to America and Earning College Degree

immaculateEducation has always been a big part of Immaculate Oburu’s life. Growing up in Kenya, the Rasmussen College School of Health Sciences student says her parents instilled the importance of higher education at a young age, so she had no doubt she would one day hold a college degree. Little did she know, however, that degree would come from halfway around the world.

“I always knew I wanted to do something in health care,” said Oburu, who attends the Rasmussen College Blaine campus. “It’s really interesting to know the effects of medicine.”

It’s probably no surprise Oburu decided to earn a Pharmacy Technician Associate’s degree. She graduated in March 2012 and then chose to continue her education at Rasmussen College by pursuing a Healthcare Management Bachelor's degree.

“I knew I wasn’t going to stop with my associate’s degree,” said Oburu. “When I graduate, I’d like to become a hospital manager. My mom is a nurse, so I’ve been around hospitals my entire life.”

Rewind nearly 11 years and Oburu and her family were just arriving in Champlin, Minn. It was November, so you can imagine the weather was a drastic change from the hot Kenyan sun.

“It was freezing,” said Oburu. “I couldn’t believe how people lived here.”

Getting used to the cool temperatures was not the only challenge Oburu faced. One week after arriving in the States, Oburu started high school. She says she went from being in the majority to a minority.

“I wasn’t used to everyone looking at me,” said Oburu.

Oburu also had to learn to speak English – comfortably that is. She says she learned the language in Kenya, but didn’t often speak it. Now, she had no choice but to work on communicating fluently.

“I didn’t have the luxury to find a comfort zone,” said Oburu. “Either I’m a mute or I used what I knew.”

After high school, Oburu enrolled at the University of Minnesota for a semester and a half. She then transferred to a technical college. Oburu says she enjoyed college but both schools were not a good fit. In 2009, she enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard. Thanks to her military service, Oburu now had help paying for school. She decided to finish her degree and found Rasmussen College.

“At the time, I wanted a college closer to home,” said Oburu. “Now, I realize how important it is to have that small class size. At my previous colleges, I didn’t even know where to go for help. People are almost smothering you with help here [Rasmussen College] if you’re struggling. The support is amazing.”

Oburu also says she appreciates the close-knit community on campus. In April 2011, she officially became a citizen of the United States – something she found truly exciting. After the ceremony, she remembers stopping by her campus and told Patty Sagert, Rasmussen College Blaine campus director, her exciting news.

“Patty celebrated with me more than my family did,” laughed Oburu. “She made it a really big deal, which meant a lot to me.”

So far, Oburu is pleased with her college experience. She’s on track to finish her bachelor’s degree next March and says she can’t wait to start her career.

“A college degree really opens a lot of doors for you,” said Oburu. “Almost any job you apply for these days requires one. It’s almost more important than your identity. I feel like with a degree, you can go anywhere you want to in the world, and no one can take it away from you.”

Do you have a success story? We are looking for more students like Oburu to feature on our College Life Blog. If you are interested in sharing your Rasmussen College story or know someone we should speak with, email us at socialmedia@rasmussen.edu.

About the author

Molly Andersen

Molly Andersen is the Senior Strategic Communications and Brand Engagement Manager at Collegis Education. She's a passionate storyteller who believes in the power of education. Molly is responsible for creating content that educates, engages and inspires current, past and future students at Rasmussen University.

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