Finding and creating community for international students
As an international student, Victoria Nwabuisi couldn’t wait to get involved in her new home away from home. She arrived in Canada from Abuja, Nigeria at 18 years old, having never experienced a day of snow or temperatures below two degrees.
That was five years ago. Today, Nwabuisi describes herself as “unafraid of -40 degrees, and unafraid to lead and encourage others to thrive in a diverse and multicultural community, something that may have intimidated me in the past.” Much of that confidence stems from her extensive university volunteer work.
Nwabuisi is the most recent recipient of the Alumni Association’s Community Leadership Scholarship, awarded to students who demonstrate extracurricular involvement at UM.
She received the scholarship, which provided “much needed financial support”, during the final year of her undergraduate degree where she majored in Asian studies and minored in management.
“The community at the University of Manitoba has contributed in many ways to my growth and confidence as a leader in an increasingly complex and diverse society,” says Nwabuisi. “The opportunities I have encountered and the people I’ve had the privilege of working with and learning from, here on campus, have hugely impacted my understanding of myself, people and the broader world.”
In 2019, Nwabuisi was elected as UMSU’s International Student Representative, providing a voice to a student community facing unique challenges. When the Manitoba government cut provincial health-care coverage for international students, she organized protests at the Legislative building and addressed students’ concerns to the media. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, she created awareness around the challenges faced by international students including finding housing, health care support, and extending student visas.
Her close ties to the international student community also inspired her to volunteer at UM’s International Centre, and co-found UM’s International Students’ Organization as a way to create a fun, empowering environment for those studying away from home.
Nwabuisi also found time to sit on UMSU’s Board of Directors, join UM’s Interfaith Working Group and help organize events for St. Paul’s College as the international student representative.
She says participating in university life outside of her classes “has brought out the best in me as a leader, student and friend” and she encourages other students to consider enriching their UM experience.
“Community leadership is such a wholesome and refreshing experience. It gives everyone involved the opportunity to understand how their community works, serve its members and possibly make a lasting impact. Through community leadership, I made meaningful connections and friendships with amazing individuals.”
These connections will serve her well as an alumna, too. Recently graduated, Nwabuisi hopes to use her skills to make a difference in the world and those around her. “In my future career as a leader in whatever capacity, I hope to help others thrive, and encourage critical, innovative and non-conforming thinking even as I blaze my trail as a multi-cultural black woman.”