Morning Sun
  • Nigerian student follows uncle’s footsteps to PSU

  • Unlike many international students at Pittsburg State, Jennifer Muoghalu did not come to America all alone. Rather, she followed her own family’s footsteps to the school and the college in which she studies.

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  • Editor’s note: This is the seventh in an ongoing series looking at one student from each foreign country represented at Pittsburg State.
    Unlike many international students at Pittsburg State, Jennifer Muoghalu did not come to America all alone. Rather, she followed her own family’s footsteps to the school and the college in which she studies.
    Her uncle, Dr. Michael Muoghalu, is the MBA program director at Pittsburg State.
    “I have family in the area, an uncle, Dr. [Michael] Muoghalu,” she said. “I would have gone somewhere else, but my parents felt it’d be nice to have someone like a dad here. I hadn’t planned it; it just kind of happened.”
    Muoghalu is one of seven students from her home country of Nigeria. Roughly 40 countries are represented at Pittsburg State.
    Yet despite Jennifer’s decision to move to America to study near her uncle, she said the experience has helped her assert her independence.
    “I think moving here is more me by being here without my parents or my dad. I learned to be more independent. I make decisions myself,” she said. “I don’t think if I hadn’t moved here I would have grown up as fast. I can survive by myself now, which is nice.”
    It is still a large transition, though. Muoghalu comes from the most populous country in Africa and the eighth most populous country in the world.
    In fact, one atlas puts Jennifer’s hometown of Lagos as the seventh-largest city in the world, ahead of Los Angeles and Calcutta but behind New York City, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Mumbai, Mexico City and Tokyo.
    “When I got here, there was a huge culture shock,” Jennifer said. “I come from a big city like New York, not like Pittsburg. It took me a year to adjust. I thought about leaving. I’m glad I didn’t.”
    “When I came, I left all my friends back home. In Pittsburg, I couldn’t move around without a car. I was stuck waiting on people hand and foot. The city life was fast-paced. Here, it’s mellow and chilled. I think I called mom every day and cried. After a while, she started crying, too, because she didn’t know what to say.”
    One of the reasons she thought about leaving was the difficult transition to American, and Pittsburg, weather.
    “It’s so cold here. It could get pretty cold,” she said. “One minute it’s cold, the next it’s just OK. In the summer, it’s really hot, though. I’m from a tropical region, so I tend to not sweat when I am here. In Nigeria, you sweat a lot.”
    Jennifer now spends much of her time as a graduate assistant in the management and marketing department at PSU. She is working on her MBA.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I’d like to do something,” she said. “I want to get my MBA because I don’t want to be stuck on the floor all the time. I’d like to take part in management decisions. Hopefully, I will do great things and make great money.”
    But her bachelor’s degree came in plastics engineering technology, a world that opens up many doors for Muoghalu.
    “There’s more to plastics that cups or bottles,” she said. “There are so many things plastics can be used for. With one or two resins, an extra additive or two, you can have all sorts of items.”
    Her transition, rough at times, has been fairly smooth after that first year. However, she does occasionally run into negative stereotypes.
    “Many people can’t place the accent,” she said. “Some people think I’m from Jamaica or something. I’ve heard some people say they think we swing on trees in Africa.
    “Some people are not comfortable when they know I am from Africa. It’s OK. It’s normal. Not everyone is going to be OK with me, and I don’t expect everyone to like me, because I don’t like everyone, so it’s OK.”
    She does see her uncle fairly often. In fact, she can’t get away from him even if she wanted to: She has several of his classes.
    “He tends to push me. I think he helped me finish my bachelor’s faster than if I had done it by myself,” Jennifer said. “I don’t tell him thank you enough. I was in more of his classes last semester, which is extra pressure. I can’t just miss class, because he’s teaching.”
    Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.

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