International #PROFspective: Biochemistry Major Tsion Abay

Tsion Abay Rowan PROFspective Feature Photo

Today we speak with Tsion Abay, a sophomore biochemistry major originally from Ethiopia, who commutes to Rowan from Williamstown, Gloucester County. Tsion shares her #PROFspective with us on with us on what it’s like to be a Rowan University international student and how she’s getting the most out of her college experience as a Rowan Prof. 

Tsion Abay International Student from Ethiopia is in front of Rowan University sign

Name: Tsion Abay
Major: Biochemistry within the College of Science and Mathematics
Minors or concentrations: Pre-Med Concentration
Year: Sophomore

Hometown and County: I am from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but two years ago I moved to Williamstown, NJ

Commuter: Yes, I commute from home.

Academic clubs: active member of Women in Engineering, MAPS (Minority Association of Pre-Med Students)

Social clubs: Rowan International Club, Public Relations Officer; African Students Association, Secretary; Rowan Global Ambassador

Do you work on campus? Yes. I recently got a job at the International Admissions Office

Why did you choose your major? Because I have always been dedicated to helping people and by being a doctor I hope to save many lives in developing countries and areas that have very little/no access to healthcare.

One reason why you chose Rowan? I chose Rowan because of the small class sizes and the diversity on campus. It is also very close to where my family lives.

Tsion Abay is at the Chemistry Lab in the Rowan Science HallMy typical day at Rowan:

You can call me an early bird, but believe me, if I ever have a chance to sleep till noon, I’ll take it. I just find myself more proactive in the morning. That’s why I mostly wake up at 6:30 a.m., get ready, eat breakfast, leave my house around 7:30 a.m. and head to Rowan. I always get on campus a little earlier than 8 a.m., regardless of what classes I have, because I want to get all of my work done. Plus the parking lot is usually almost deserted at that time, and I can easily find the best spot.

This semester, Wednesdays and Mondays seem to be my busiest days. I have my first class at 8 a.m. till 10:45, which is my Physics Lab. It’s brutal to have a lab at 8 a.m., because I’m half asleep. But, I like the class. Sometimes, we finish early or stay till the very end: it all depends on how fast I finish my lab assignments.

Tsion Abay studies at the Rowan Science HallMy next class doesn’t start until 12:30, so I use this spare time working on my lab report that is due next class. I like to study in Science Hall. Rowan has very comfy study nooks on the first floor of Science Hall, where I can plug in my laptop, gather with my friends and work on my homework. But if I need to print something out I go to the library or study at James Hall, where my next class is.

From 12:30 to 1:45, I have Being an American class. So far, we have been discussing politics, because it’s a hot topic right now, and later on we’ll talk about culture and democracy. Open discussion is what makes this class interesting. I get a chance to express my thoughts and feelings about various events covered.

Rowan student Tsion Abay next to the sign of Admissions Building, Savitz HallI recently got a job at the Admissions Office. I work 20 hours a week in the International Admissions Office. Mostly, I help out Kesi with her international travels, as she is the Assistant Director of International Admissions and represents Rowan University all over the world. So I sometimes work in between my classes, or if I have time I hit the gym. I try to work out at the Rec Center whenever I can. Typically, I attend fitness group classes, like Zumba or Cycling. I like Zumba classes, they are fun and I don’t feel like I’m actually working out.

After that, I sometimes do my homework, or head to Wilson Hall to play the piano. I never played for a big crowd, but I really enjoy playing it just for myself. I like to stay in the practice room for about an hour or so, unless I have my MAPS club meeting that day. Since I recently changed my major, I decided to join MAPS club. My freshman year I visited a lot of their meetings, but now I want to get more involved in this club.

Tsion Abay practice playing the piano at Rowan Wilson HallBut when I was an Electrical and Computer Engineering major, I was a part of Women in Engineering club. I believe in empowered women pursuing STEM degrees. And in fall 2016, I got a chance to visit a conference in Boston. The main mission of the event was empowering women in STEM careers and encouraging leadership skills. It was a great experience. I attended forums and met so many successful women, like CEOs of big companies, working in engineering and science fields.

Tsion Abay Rowan Student writes a chemical formula on the boardTypically, if I have time, I go with my cousin to Wendy’s or Pizza Hut. They are both conveniently located close to the main campus. But if I’m having a busy day, then I just grab a bite at the coffee shop in Science Hall or James Hall, depending on where I’m planning to spend time getting ready for my last class: Biology Lab from 6 to 9 p.m. This semester we will be working with microscope a lot, which should be interesting.

Rowan Student Tsion Abay behind the Engineering Building next to the fountainCloser to the end of the semester, I am getting ready for my Global Ambassador presentations, that I will be showing to students from different countries. I work closely with Kesi, from the International Admissions Office, and she helps me to practice my speech. On my summer and winter breaks, I normally travel and give presentations about Rowan. So far I have only presented in Ethiopia. The presentation I did there went really well, and Rowan received many leads afterwards. I saw myself in all of those students. They are all very excited to come abroad and study. I honestly have a lot of fun doing it and looking forward to travel to another country to represent Rowan.

Story organized and photography by: Natalia Panfilova