MINOT, N.D. • When Praise Okunbor left her home country of Nigeria to come to Minot State, she was used to succeeding in a variety of fields.
The sophomore nursing major attended a boarding school for high school. Being the deputy head girl, or second in command, she had experience living on her own. She also participated in math, English, writing, and debate.
Seeing this, Okunbor’s parents wanted her to continue her high achievement into college.
“I was really good in high school, and my parents started thinking to send me abroad, to really put some investment into where I get my education,” she said. “My mom did all the research and stuff, and Minot State worked out. It was safe. It was good because it was affordable, so she was like, ‘That's a good shot. Let’s take it.’”
While the change in culture shocked her initially, namely the food, weather, and writing style, Okunbor made the best of the transition and adapted quickly.
“There were a lot of things that I was like, okay, I need to get used to this,” she said. “It was hard, but I guess it didn't throw me off. It didn’t deter me. I'm going to be here for four years, you know. I'm going to study, and I want make the best of this opportunity, so I was like, ‘bring it on and I'll take it.’”
Took it she did. Having just been accepted into the nursing program, Okunbor currently is a peer mentor and orientation leader for the Academic Support Center and one of the editors for “The Coup,” the University’s art and literary magazine.
Because of her variety of interests, Okunbor strategically contemplated her choice in major.
“When I first came in, my major was biology, but I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do,” she said. “I was like, if I'm going to be here for four years, the best thing I have to do is explore. I was definitely sure I loved writing, but I knew I loved science, so there were so many thoughts. I was like, I'm already in bio; I'm taking biology classes. Let's try to make writing come into this. Let me try to write.”
After getting a recommendation from Director of University Communications Michael Linnell, Okunbor enrolled in Communications 281, the class for writing for the University’s student newspaper “Red and Green.”
“I took the class my first semester, and then my second semester I spent writing,” she said. “After that, I had a different professor in an art class ask me, ‘Hey, you write for the newspaper. We need an editor for the Coup. What do you think?’ and I'm like, I could try. I don't really know, but I could try. I got it and thought, Wow, okay, let's continue this. It's awesome.”
Her position as an orientation leader has calculated beginnings as well.
“I wanted the exposure,” she said. “I wanted to prepare myself for nursing. Since I’m an international student, I cannot work outside the school, so I was like ‘You know, there’s stuff here that's actually similar. I can start with the basics; before I think about how to put in an I.V., I should probably know how to communicate with an American.’”
Today, Okunbor still thinks about how she can piece all of her interests together after graduation.
“Writing comes up in a lot in different things — in my research, reports. Writing is just awesome,” she said. “So I'm still thinking of getting more training in that, taking more classes and seeing how it gives me an edge as a nurse.”
If there is one thing that Okunbor has learned so far in her experience at Minot State, it is to work with what she has.
“There are opportunities everywhere," she said. “Minot State might seem small, but if you're willing to work with it, it's going to work for you. Anything can work, all you have to do is put in the effort and be willing to go forward with it. Just be ready to explore. Find something. There's always something, so just find it and tie it in to what you want.”