Gatumi Aliyu is making the journey of thousands of miles, but his first steps were from his home in Nigeria to the United States and, specifically, the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. He received his Pre-Medical degree from Pitt-Johnstown in April 2013, and he is now in medical school at the Saba University School of Medicine in Saba, Caribbean Netherlands.
Along with pre-med knowledge, he said his time at Pitt-Johnstown allowed him to learn invaluable life lessons. “One major thing I learned from my time at Pitt-Johnstown is to appreciate diversity,” he said. “It taught me a lot about my own culture and the cultures of others. My willingness to learn and adopt other cultures has been the major reason I had such a successful time at Pitt-Johnstown.”
He represents part of a 2,000-percent increase in international students at Pitt-Johnstown in five years. As of 2013, the university had 90 international students representing 15 countries.
“It was an easy decision for me,” he said. “My brother and sister were already studying in the US, so it was the obvious next step. I think this has to do with the higher standard of education in the US and the unpredictability of most universities in Nigeria.
“Facilities in US universities are maintained and they all work. In Nigeria, there are some facilities, but they are either broken due to lack of maintenance or simply just not used. Power supply is also a major factor. In the US, there is constant electricity. And finally, the quality of education is higher and opportunity for research is readily available in the US, unlike Nigeria.”
As for Pitt-Johnstown, he said he was pleasantly surprised by what he called, “The friendliness and hospitality of most students, faculty, and staff.” However, he admits the initial phase was somewhat daunting. “The biggest challenge must have been not previously knowing anyone at the university,” he said.
Gatumi made an impact – and many acquaintances – through several of the 85 clubs and activities offered on campus. He was a member of the Student Government Association (SGA), Chemical Society, Tri-Beta, and participated in intramural sports.
“This helped me tremendously because it allowed me to meet people and readily make friends,” he said. “During my time in SGA, I had the opportunity to meet, communicate, and share ideas with people from different ethnicities. I remember in 2011, I was lucky enough to be chosen by SGA along with six other senators to attend a conference in College Station, Texas. There were more than 50 other universities there. It was a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to meet and connect with other people.”