Sinegugu Gasa, known as Sne on Lorain County Community College’s campus, is a native of Durban. She came to the United States two-and-a-half years ago.
Known as eThekwini, meaning bay or lagoon in Zulu, Durban is located in the KwaZulu-Natal Province along the Indian ocean on South Africa’s southeastern coast.
While the climate in her home country is significantly warmer than in Ohio, important factors in the average South African’s lifestyle like post-secondary opportunities aren’t as accessible and as high of a priority as they are in the U.S..
“Access to tertiary education in South Africa [isn’t what it should be]…I mean, I asked myself ‘How am I going to go to college?’,” she said. “I knew it was something I had to do, but the resources just weren’t there. And I didn’t want to go to just any school, as well.”
Gasa said that while the government in her country is trying to help more young adults gain admittance to college, earning a degree is not a top priority for many in her homeland.
Initially, though, attending college was not something Gasa thought about. When she first came to the U.S., she registered for a job as an au pair in an attempt to find new experiences and see a different country.
“I wanted to work and get some money, and not be in [South Africa],” Gasa explained. “I wanted to live somewhere else and see how they do things there. I just had that curiosity – I was like ‘South Africa is not big enough for me’; I needed to see something else besides my little hometown.”
The au pair program Gasa registered for had paired her with several different families, but she said she had a good feeling about her Ohio family.
“When I arrived, I was a live-in nanny and later managed to change my visa to a student visa with [their] help,” Gasa said.
After a few years in the U.S., she began to consider earning a college degree. A friend of hers mentioned LCCC, saying that it was a good college to look into if she wanted to become an international student.
“I chose LCCC because the international initiatives staff was extremely welcoming and friendly upon my visit there,” Gasa stated. “[LCCC International Initiatives Coordinator]Cheryl Miltner was very kind and helpful to me before and during my application process.”
She enrolled at LCCC this past fall and presently works at the Commodore Books & More bookstore on campus.
Currently working toward earning her associate of arts degree, Gasa plans on acquiring a bachelor’s degree in international relations and business.
College in the U.S. varies greatly compared to college in South Africa, according to Gasa.
“I find [that] here, college is way more accessible than back home,” she said.
Gasa said her perception of the the United States was very different to what she had anticipated before her move here. After her arrival, she was surprised that, “not everybody drives a Range Rover,” as she put it. “There were some generalizations I made before I got here.”
Gasa’s plans for her future include assisting in bettering her home country with the knowledge she will take away from her time in the U.S.
“Although my path is not 100 percent clear to me right now, I think I would like to use the skills I have learned and will still learn from my [experience at] American college and help out people in my own country,” she said. “I would like to have a career where I could help and offer the broader perspective I have gained in America to help combat issues like injustice and poverty in South Africa.”