BY GABBY RAYMOND '20
According to the Mount Holyoke website, the first international student came to study at Mount Holyoke College in 1839, just two years after Mary Lyon opened a door to education for women all over the United States. In the 2016 to 2017 school year there were students from over 61 countries. Angela Nayiga ’20, from Kampala, Uganda who came to Mount Holyoke last spring is one of those international students.
“I never thought of studying abroad before, but my dad always wanted me to study abroad,” said Nayiga. She was unprepared for the numerous steps required to apply abroad. Nayiga had to study and take her SAT’s within a period of six months to learn different styles of writing and master test taking, which can be difficult if you haven’t spent your whole life in the American education system that prioritizes standardized testing.
“I only applied to Mount Holyoke. An alum from my high school studied there and when I went to the American embassy in my country, the advisor told me about the college. I’d done one semester at a university at home and the education was not very good. Since the Mount Holyoke acceptance rate was high and I had no experience with writing, I thought I’d give it a shot, and that it would probably be my only shot,” Nayiga said.
While she was excited to come to the United States for a better education than what was available to her in Uganda, Nayiga still faced challenges the first semester. “I would feel very homesick at some points because I was used to being around so many people. It’s hard coming to a new place and making friends. It’s not that it’s hard for me to make friends, but it’s not very easy to make close friends in an environment that is so different from what I’m used to,” she said.
Through student organizations including Mount Holyoke African and Caribbean Student Association and the Mount Holyoke Christian Fellowship, Nayiga began to make a home-away-from-home for herself.
“Generally the small clubs and communities are where most students find their home,” she said. “For me the Christian Fellowship was very important, and it was there I found many friends, especially during my time in ServeUp, which allowed me to go to New Orleans.”
While spirituality and community are very important to her, Nayiga is also focused on her academics. She is majoring in Computer Science and plans to bring her knowledge and experiences back to her hometown of Kampala when she graduates.
“Uganda has had the same president for the last 35 years. He is corrupt, as are so many government officials, and the people are poor. Even though we are hard working there are no jobs for us,” said Nayiga. “I want to make an impact in my country — I want to have a foot in both worlds because I want to start up something back home, probably like a tech school where I can teach people coding. I believe students there are very brilliant, but they do not get a chance to study; I only learned coding when I came to Mount Holyoke.”
Nayiga’s also has an appreciation for little things about Mount Holyoke. For example, she loves“that people open doors for each other, I’ve never that anywhere else in the world. The Mount Holyoke vibe just makes you really good somehow,” she said. “It just transforms you.”