“There comes a time when we leave our loved ones and go on this journey. No one said it was going to be easy, but we have to remember that the ending is worth it,” said Nadia, Class of 2017.

Meet international student and Business Administration major, Nadia Fanou Tosse. Nadia was 19 years old when she left the Benin Republic in West Africa to move to the United States and enroll at Winona State University-Rochester in 2012. Coming to the US for college, Nadia found that her world was rapidly changing.

“The language, the culture, the food, almost everything was different,” she said.

The language was probably the biggest adjustment for Nadia. Before moving to the US, she spoke French and four other languages but did not speak English. “I had to take ELC classes for a semester before attending college. It was hard for me in the beginning to understand everything my professors were teaching,” said Nadia.

Many times, she wanted to quit and return home to be surrounded by her family and friends, but she decided to persevere. “It wasn’t easy, but I chose not to go the easy way, because many reminded me that I wasn’t alone,” said Nadia.

Although new to the area, Nadia quickly developed a support network here at WSU-R. Faculty, mentors, other students, and her friends became her strength to keep motivated to continue. “Some reminded me the reason why I came here in the first place and nothing was going to stop me from reaching my goals,” she said.

Like most non-traditional students, Nadia chose to enroll here because of the unique career paths and opportunities that WSU-R supports through higher education and competitive programming. The students that walk through our doors at WSU-R are not your traditional college students. Varying ages, ethnicities, life experiences, and social backgrounds make this campus unique from others in the region.

Her advice for new students is: “Get to know people, get involved in school activities, surround yourself with positive people and don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know,” said Nadia. When asked what she liked most about Winona State University, Nadia replied, “Today I am glad WSU gave me the chance to create a new life full of hope and determination.