Onyinye Uwolloh is excited to be part of a contingent of Nigerian students at Northern Kentucky University. She is earning a Bachelor of Science in Psychological Science and will graduate in 2020.
"There was an Education USA Advising Center at the U.S. Embassy back home in Lagos where they were advising students who wanted to learn abroad," Uwolloh said. "They had seminars where people from different colleges came in and talked to us. The first person I ever listened to when I went there was from NKU. They give scholarships to international students, so there were 30 Nigerians who came to school at NKU in my set."
Uwolloh came to the United States in 2016, two years after graduating from high school. Her mother, Schola, works in Nigeria as a clinical psychologist and inspired her to pursue a career in psychology. NKU also offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program.
"My mother was originally a dentist, but she went back and got a master's degree in psychology [from the University of Lagos]," Uwolloh said. "Because I used to read through all of her textbooks and was fascinated with psychology, I decided to major in it and minor in biological sciences."
Her family is happy she is seizing the opportunity to earn a college degree in the Unites States. This is especially true of her father, Chris, who graduated as a lawyer from the University of Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and has always extolled the benefits of an international experience. Uwolloh, who has five siblings, plans to stick around and earn a master's degree and a doctorate stateside.
"My parents were excited," she said. "I'm their eldest daughter. They knew it would be a very good opportunity for me to study abroad. Then, if any of my sisters or brothers want to do the same, my parents can say, 'Okay. Your sister has been there and done that. She can show you the ropes and how to go about classes.'"
Uwolloh made a fairly seamless adjustment going from Nigeria to Kentucky. Having lived on campus her freshman year, she now lives off campus and works part time for the university.
"Culture shock is not as bad in our generation with the internet and TV," she said. "I knew what to expect. I plan to go home after graduation and come back for graduate school."
When Uwolloh is further along in the BS in Psychological Science program, she will likely have some online courses. Until then, she plans to enjoy the intimate class sizes on campus.
"The way lectures are done in bigger schools back home, you are one of 300 in a giant lecture hall," she said. "The professor might not even know your name or be able to assist you one on one. NKU is smaller. Because of that, I know almost every professor in the department."
PSY 338: Cognitive Psychology is her favorite course in the curriculum, so far.
"There were so many things in that course where you sort of knew the information intuitively," Uwolloh said. "But having them say, 'This is how we figured this out with this experiment' was a eureka moment."
Uwolloh, who enjoys reading and writing poetry, also likes doing research while working toward completing the degree program.
"A lot of people who go into psychology don't know much about the research aspect of it," she said. "I certainly didn't. A lot of people are more focused on, 'Let's go into the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] field.' There's a lot of research that's done in psychology, so there is ample opportunity for anybody who wants to do research, as well. I've been working on research with two of my professors."
Once Uwolloh finishes all of her higher education, she hopes to return to Nigeria to practice, just like her mother.
"I prefer to work at home in Nigeria," Uwolloh said. "There's a big stigma against mental illness there. Just now, psychology is starting to be recognized because nobody paid much attention to it in the past. My degree will create opportunities for me. Any employer is going to be happy to see someone who studied abroad."
Learn more about the NKU online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program.
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