International Student Gains Confidence, Clarity and Broadens Her Desire to Help Others

December 9, 2022

Very early on, Fatimetou Bechir understood the value of higher education and knew it would be critical for her dream of helping people.

From Western Africa, she moved to France in 2015 after high school. There she attended med-school but changed direction when she decided to study in America.

She credits her time at NOVA with helping her adjust quickly to being a new student in a new country and boosting her confidence.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background:

I am originally from Mauritania, West Africa, then I moved to France. Attending NOVA is now my second chance at higher education. While growing up, becoming a doctor was the only way I could see myself helping my country move forward. Sadly, it took me four years to realize that my impact could be more significant if I combined my strengths with my passions. I am now studying business administration.

What brought you to NOVA?

I had some friends who attended NOVA, and my only family member in the United States lives in Northern Virginia. Starting my studies all over again in a different country was already a challenge. I surely wanted to save money while taking courses that would transfer easily. My friends were reassuring about the cultural diversity at NOVA. 

What are you studying at NOVA?

I initially wanted to pursue a business administration degree but taking classes in accounting and mathematics are pushing me toward a more specific major.

Tell Us About Your Experience at NOVA, i.e., professors you’ve liked and friends you’ve met.

The top resources I’ve utilized were the writing center and the library. One of my professors at NOVA helped me secure an internship last summer with the IMF, an experience I will forever value! I work with “College Steps,” a non-profit organization that partners with NOVA to provide college support for individuals with social or learning challenges. In Africa, we usually don’t discuss the difficulties that arise from those disabilities. By getting out of my comfort zone, I get to work with students with whom I share the same goals. They inspire me, and I help them be more confident about their potential.

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA?

You should be patient and give NOVA the time to grow on you. The first class you take may not be the best experience you'll get. Along with the internship, I got the chance to take some classes at UPenn (University of Pennsylvania) during the summer and the beginning of fall. I now value even more the education I get from NOVA.

Where do you see yourself after NOVA or what career pursuits are you exploring?

I was planning on transferring this year, but I am considering attending more classes in the spring at NOVA and taking advantage of the resources I have here. I am giving myself more time to work on my applications and to be better prepared for fall. I was able to visit some schools in New England recently, and I liked the business-related programs they had to offer. I hope to transfer to a four-year university that will allow me to flourish as an individual, and I hope it will be a seamless continuation of my NOVA journey.

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