Future Nonprofit Leader: Insights and Advice from an International Student MBA Candidate

Sarah Atia posing inside of the Business Hall in a black blazer.

Meet Sarah Atia, an international student from Uganda. Sarah is a Master’s of Business Administration student in the William G. Rohrer College of Business, and a part of the 2024 graduating class. Today she shares with us her student experience and advice for international students. 

How did you decide that Rowan was the right fit for you?

“I started with getting my undergraduate degree in Public Administration & Management back in my home country. I transitioned from a fellowship program that I had here in the United States, and I was trying to figure out how I wanted to reshape my career path. When I decided to go back to school, my desire was to study Business, but I wasn’t 100% certain of that. I applied to a few schools here and there. When searching online, I came across the Certificates of Undergraduate Studies and I thought that it would be a great introduction to the courses before I committed to being in the MBA program. When I had to make my final decision, I chose Rowan because of the Certificate program. I knew I needed that to be sure that I was going into the right program that would later on suit my needs. I am now a student in the MBA program, which has opened so many avenues for my future, like nonprofits, leadership, sustainability, and entrepreneurship.” 

Sarah Atia posing outside of the Rohrer College of Business in a black blazer.

What do you hope to gain from the Master’s of Business Administration Program?

“The past couple of years within my career have mostly been nonprofit organizations. The decision to go back to school and get a business degree was to gain knowledge in business and apply it to experiences with nonprofits. My main goal is to be able to work with small nonprofits in Uganda, and I hope that this knowledge will be used to help make these small nonprofits sustainable.”

What tips of advice would you give another International student?

“The first tip that I have for International students is to gain the resources you need to succeed and take care of yourself. It is a big change to move to a new place and study at a new school. The first few weeks are challenging because you have to navigate through this brand new environment. Make sure everything is secured into place as best as it can be. You need to know that you have a safe place with everything that you need.

“You also need to be prepared to face the weather. In Uganda, it is always summer, with a few spring days here and there. Making sure you do your research and have the right clothing to adapt to the weather changes; it is super important. Another thing is trying to plan your meals so you know what you can eat, and what you might like or not like. Preparing your mind to be ready is essential.

“Stay open-minded. If you come with this clear-cut image of how your experience is going to go, it could lead to disappointment. Be open and aware of new experiences that may come your way. It may be overwhelming at first, but there are resources at Rowan that can help you with this adjustment. For me, the team in the International Center was very helpful with getting my questions answered and feeling guided in the right direction.”

Sarah Atia working on her device inside of the Business Hall

What has your experience been like here at Rowan?

“It has been a great experience. First and foremost, I have been supported in so many ways by my professors, friends, and International Center when I needed help. If I had questions, they were always so willing to help me, and I couldn’t have done it without them. Everybody has played a part in my journey here, and I am so grateful.

“Being an international student, it has been a learning experience. It’s always one thing to hear ‘oh, what is it like to study abroad,’ but through being here, I have learned so much through this experience. There are so many things to discover and figure out. There have been some pros and cons, but in all of it, I have learned a lot.

“Coming to Rowan has been a huge change. The system of learning is so different than it is back in Uganda. In my home country, we usually use the British system for education. I had to re-learn different things here. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to study here at Rowan. There have been so many resources that I have been able to learn from, and I have built connections with people along the way. They have all added up to my journey here.”

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Written by Jordyn Dauter, junior dance & elementary education double major