Q&A with Sumaya Islam ’15, International Political Economy & Diplomacy (IPED)
Sumaya Islam ’15 began looking for an American university as a transfer student, she longed to meet people from all over the world. She discovered the University of Bridgeport at a college fair when the international composition of the student body first came to her attention, became intrigued by its academic offerings and location smack in the middle of New York and Boston, and was wowed by the aerial view of the seaside campus she spotted in the Viewbook.
But it was the prospect of becoming a Purple Knight that clinched the deal.
“Purple is my very favorite color,” explains Sumaya, “and my tour guide, Chris O’Neil, kept chanting ‘Come and be a Purple Knight’ as he took us around to all the buildings and introduced the professors. So I ended up choosing UB because of the slogan. I wanted to know what being a Purple Knight was all about. It made me feel like I was going to be doing something exciting.”
Sumaya recently reached out to UBecome to share that, “Miles apart from my country Malaysia, I have found a home in the University of Bridgeport.” We sat down with her to find out what she likes most about being a Purple Knight, now that she’s been “self-crowned.”
I have met people from all over the world here, and I wouldn’t trade that experience with anything greater that comes my way tomorrow. I have friends here from Brazil, China, Italy – I feel honored to call them my friends. It’s the best feeling. People know you, they adore you, they are ready to exchange their culture with you. I can’t imagine that there’s anywhere else in the world where this is possible.
It’s so diverse here, and I see a lot of minds working together at UB. Whether you’re in the engineering building, or the library, or just walking around campus, you’ll see people from India, South America, the Middle East. And they’re all working together. They have no conflict.
UB’s a place where we can all share our ideas and make them all work together.
I know how to write and speak seven languages, but I never had a platform before. When I first came to UB, I met a friend from Pakistan who helped me work on my Urdu. It was my first platform outside my mother tongue in the entire world.
Then being here I’ve been able to improve my English in so many ways. My American friends take the time to correct me. They say, “This is how we talk here, this is what you sound like to me,” so I can practice.
At UB, you need to reach out to each other and have the willingness to speak out, and if you do it right, it really works. Everyone is open minded here.
It was actually with one of my advisors. I was debating with myself about which major (career path) to take, Psychology or Political Science. My advisor sat down with me and my grades, and he said, “No, you are good at international relations, you’re good at writing, you’re good at speaking, you have knowledge of other countries. You belong in our College of Public and International Affairs.” It was the first time someone actually looked at me and saw all the good sides of me at once. And afterwards I felt yes, I belong here. I made a good choice and have the right mentors to guide me.
In addition to the doors to diversity here on campus, there are a lot of opportunities to network off campus. I recently volunteered at the New York Association of Youth Development, for instance, where I helped people translate from their mother tongue to what is required in English that they don’t understand. There are also many academic talks held in the College of International and Public Affairs, and through them I have been introduced to a very famous journalist as well as UB graduate students who served the United Nations as interns. These talks verify that I am in the right place with the right people, growing my knowledge in many directions.
Most importantly, I am meeting UB professors who are very well connected. They hook you up with so many organizations.
When I first came to UB, I was a very shy and introverted individual. I had a lot of ideas but was afraid to express them. I had very minimal skills in sharing my thoughts, ideas, or even opinions to the outside world.
After two years at UB, I am now someone I didn’t even know existed in me. I have transformed into a better person, someone others enjoy conversing with, who is open-minded, who could take criticism. Now I am open to other people’s opinions, plus I can express my own. It’s exciting to me that I now have new and different ways to send out my ideas into the world.