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From Nigeria to Sault Ste. Marie

For Baffa Yusuf, his checklist of requirements for a university were really quite simple: the school had to be located in Canada and it had to provide an environment that would be conducive to academic success. Algoma University was that institution.

Algoma U was not the first post-secondary institution attended by Yusuf, who is originally from Nigeria. He began his studies in Malaysia but was not satisfied with the learning environment and it lacked a sense of community. That’s when he set out to find a school that was right for him.

After discovering Algoma U and with minimal research conducted on the city of Sault Ste. Marie (he located it on a map and it met the Canadian school requirement), Yusuf enrolled. “I approached an agent who worked out the logistics and admissions and everything for me in Nigeria and that’s when I decided to come here,” he shared.

Yusuf was determined to complete his studies and achieve academic success. He also ended up finding the sense of community he was longing for. “I first went to the GLC (George Leach Centre) and I met a student there who showed me around. I had some issues locating places on campus,” Yusuf explained of his first day at Algoma.

“I walked around and some students from Saudi Arabia who took me out to have lunch. There’s that diversity and I got accepted by people so fast.” It was much different than his previous experience and played into his strategy for academic success.

He noted, “Because of the small class sizes, it’s really easy to find a group that you can work on group projects with. Compared to my other university where we had about 200 to 300 students in a class, here it’s easy. The education experience was very beneficial.” He also acknowledged the advantages of having professors who are both accessible and responsive to students.

Yusuf certainly made the most of his academic experience at Algoma U, joining a number of extracurricular activities which helped to enrichen his academic journey. Yusuf served on the Algoma University Students’ Union (AUSU) Board for two and a half years, holding the positions of Vice-President External and President.

Yusuf also served as a representative on the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) Committee, founded the Afro Beat Club and played on the varsity soccer team. Yusuf was also selected to participate in a student exchange program, which he credits with being his most memorable experience during his time at Algoma U.

“I took the opportunity to enrol in the exchange program,” I was fortunate enough to be picked for one of the exchange programs to Finland.” There he got to participate in activities and tours that gave him a taste of Finnish food, culture and architecture. The exchange also included a trip to St. Petersburg, Russia.

“It was a very memorable experience,” It’s hard to have these experiences in other places because it is very competitive. If I was in a big institution I would have to compete with people but at Algoma U the opportunities are there for you, you just have to take the first step to pursue it and the chances of being selected are very high.”

This drive and sense of initiative has served Yusuf well.

In June, 2016, Yusuf graduated with his Bachelor of Arts in Finance and Economics. Looking towards the future, Yusuf hopes to gain work experience in his field that will better prepare him to undertake a master’s degree related to economics. He eventually hopes to pursue his Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) certification.

After earning his CPA, he hopes to earn meaningful employment within the city. Yusuf encourages other students to stay within Sault Ste. Marie upon graduation and help the University take initiative in pushing forward new policies and plans that will make the city a more appealing place to live, learn, and work.

Written by: Jessica Ferlaino

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