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International Student Excels at USciences Nearly 9,000 Miles from Home

By Colby Gallagher

Published on April 29, 2019

Nadia Fernando BMS'19Transitioning to college can bring a lot of changes, even if you’re going to school in your home state, but Nadia Fernando BMS’19 traveled nearly 9,000 miles from her home in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to enroll at USciences, where she found a welcoming and supportive community that felt like home.

Fernando said she wanted to go to college in the United States, a country known for its education system, and a handful of factors, including campus size and location, played into her deciding on USciences.

“USciences is located in the most perfect area: surrounded by other colleges, neighboring a developing West Philadelphia, close to the city, and yet far enough to not feel the weight and stress of living in a city,” she said. “This school was perfect for someone who was already dedicated to a career in the sciences - with a disciplined and focused approach to scientific knowledge and skills. Research opportunities were plentiful and access to research was easy.”

Four years later, Fernando is ready to graduate and credits her friends, professors, and other faculty members for making a challenging journey easier.

“I’ve had so many professors that meaningfully contributed to my success here at this school, professors that I’ve been able to connect with beyond the classroom. Professors like Dr. Grace Farber, Dr. Bela Peethambaran, Ms. Margaret Reinhart, Dr. Madhumati Mahalingam, Dr. Wasim Anwar,” said Fernando. “This was so important because not only are these professors directly shaping my knowledge, but they are key players in developing my overall professional growth. They act as great resources, mentors, and a support systems.”

Aside from excelling in the classroom, Fernando worked at the J.W. England Library on campus, served in multiple organizations and acted as a teaching assistant in the chemistry and biology departments for two years.

She recognizes that there were certain restrictions and difficulties she faced as an international student, but said taking risks and pursuing opportunities helped her overcome those.

“USciences was well-equipped with resources to help guide me in the right direction, but it was on students to take that initiative and seek out those resources,” she said. ‘That’s what makes USciences students stand out: that drive to go beyond.”

Fernando is continuing to seek out opportunities and push herself by applying to medical schools in Australia. Immediately after graduating, however, she’ll travel back to Cambodia.

“I’m going to be returning home to Phnom Penh to work with my high school in a transition program for local Cambodian children who have been granted scholarships to attend The International School of Phnom Penh,” she said.

After that, Fernando will work for six months as an English as an Additional Language or EAL teacher until medical school.

Fernando hopes to work with underserved populations serving diversifying regions and global populations.

Categories: News, Misher College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Students, Undergraduate, USciences,