For many, college means living on your own for the first time. Spending extended periods away from home.
Sometimes, far away from home.
“Moving here was a big change because I only have my aunt, her husband, and my little cousins,” says Josephine Bonsu, a second semester student at Williston State College (WSC).
Born in New Jersey, Bonsu moved to Ghana with her family when she was 6. Two years ago, she moved to Williston to help her pregant aunt and later, decided to enroll in school. Bonsu used financial aid to pay for her first-year tuition.
She learned just today that she received her first scholarship. But didn’t learn the amount-
“I haven’t checked yet,” she says.
-until just after our interview. The scholarship will pay full tuition for her second year of college.
Mikko Surenkin hails from Finland. But after spending time in Salt Lake City as an exchange student four years ago, he knew he wanted to return to the United States.
“Someone recommended this place to me saying I could do sports here and have a good level of education and move on after I get my associate’s degree which sounded like a good plan to me,” says Surenkin who is in his first semester at WSC.
Like any college students, there have been some growing pains.
“Of course, there are some cultural changes. Like the way you live, the things you do every day are a little different,” says Surenkin.
“I really felt down in the beginning. Especially last semester, my first semester. I was really down,” says Bonsu.
But both students say that while being far from home, they feel right at home here.
“It’s a free town. Everybody respects each other. So it’s good,” says Bonsu.
“I’ve been really happy the way people have accepted me here,” says Surenkin.
Both Bonsu and Surenkin plan to pursue careers in the medical field.
According to WSC, enrollment of international students has nearly doubled over the past 8 years.