Student spotlight: Victoria Ekpoma shares what she wants to bring back to Nigeria from the International Student Council
Women in the United States are being encouraged now more than ever to go to school and get an education. In a recent article by The Review, Tara Ivie of the Women’s Success Center said that there has been a higher number of women enrolling in school than men at UVU. For Victoria Ekpoma, that is something she hopes to see for the women in her home country of Nigeria.
“In Nigeria, women are still not as inspired to move beyond their comfort zones,” Ekpoma said. “Women are still expected to be handed things and are expected to wait until doors are opened for them, and usually they won’t go beyond themselves until they feel things will work out.”
Early in her life, Ekpoma felt that she wasn’t that kind of woman. She was surrounded by many strong women in her life who encouraged her to pursue her dreams. One of her major dreams was to pursue an education. She never realized that that dream would lead her to study at UVU.
“I didn’t want to study in another country,” she said. “Someone threw it out there and said I would be great to study there [in Utah].”
She spoke to someone who had studied at BYU and loved studying in Utah and encouraged her to apply. Even though she loved hearing about the mountains and the people that lived there, Ekpoma didn’t have high hopes that she would be accepted into the program. However, the acceptance letter finally arrived, and she was ready to leave for Utah.
Since studying at UVU, Ekpoma has served on the International Student’s Council as an advisor for African students coming the US to receive an education. While serving on the council, she knew she always wanted to return to Nigeria to help those who don’t feel they have a chance to be successful in life.
Ekpoma said she always knew she would return to Nigeria. She felt that if she didn’t return home, she would miss out on helping so many of her fellow Nigerians.
“Me succeeding out here is a testament to the fact that anybody can succeed if they want to. But if I stay here, then that’s it. That’s me, I succeeded,” Ekpoma said.
Ekpoma would one day like to open a center in Nigeria where young people can learn the skills necessary to be successful and to grasp their dreams, like her. Building that dream starts by serving the community, which she learned while serving on the council. She knows what it means to build a sense of community and empowerment that she hopes to build back in her home country.
“We’re not going to teach them to do anything they can learn in school. It’s a place to change people’s thinking, to change people’s perspectives, to make people aspire for more. In community, we find solace, we find a sense of belonging, but we also find a place and avenue to apply ourselves to help other people. That’s what the council did for me.”