From Our Scholar Blogs:

The wonderful challenge – by Irene Mugeni

​Before I came to the United States, I knew college was going to be a challenge but a wonderful challenge. My first couple of days at Gettysburg College were difficult. I dealt with cultural shock, homesickness and a busy schedule. But as the semester progressed, everything got easier with the help of my professors, my academic adviser and my mentors.
I’m thankful I didn’t have to go through this transition by myself. I was welcomed by a great mentor team including: Donna Fleetwood, Sarah Noorbaksh, Katherine McFarland, Alice Bedard-Voorhees and Melanie Walderon. They helped make my transition to college smooth and I never feel alone because I know I have a great support system. I’m lucky to have a mentor team only a few miles away from my school. Many of my mentors live in Mechanicsburg or Carlisle which are roughly 30 miles from my campus. 
Sometimes on the weekends my mentors come to visit me on campus and we share a meal or I spend time at their homes. I always look forward to spending time with them because I consider them my family away from home. Staying with them is always fun. I get to try different activities that are a part of American culture. One of my favorite activities is riding a horse. My mentor Donna Fleetwood owns a horse named River. I’ll always remember my first time sitting on River’s back. I was worried because I remember thinking to myself what if he doesn’t like me and throws me off like the horses I had watched at a rodeo show a few days earlier. Luckily, that didn’t happen and I had a great first horseback riding experience! 
​​Besides my mentors, my SHE-CAN sisterhood has helped make my college transition smooth. When I got to campus, I couldn’t wait to meet my SHE-CAN sister Vuochnear Ly. She helped by familiarizing me with all the resources I can utilize on campus to be successful. She’s helped me learn how to get books at a cheap cost, showed me the best studying corners and suggested good clubs to join. She helped me with all the things that normally take freshmen students a long time to realize. I always thank her for being a role model. When I arrived on campus she had already created a good name for SHE-CAN and that inspired me to work hard like her and be involved like she is.
During my first semester, stepping out of my comfort zone helped me realize the most amazing experiences and opportunities. I pushed myself beyond what I thought I couldn’t do and started realizing what I’m most passionate about.

​Currently, I’m in the Gettysburg College Leadership Certificate yearlong program. I have a leadership coach at school and we have leadership trainings every month that help me personally and professionally. During my first semester in the program, I gained a deep understanding about who I am and how I want to be perceived in the world. The program has been a good opportunity to network with like-minded professionals. Additionally, I’m involved in a variety of clubs such as the International Club, where I’m club treasure, and the Gettysburg African Student Association. My favorite activity in the association is discussing African politics and learning about the experiences of other African students on campus. I joined these organizations as a way to strengthen and practice my leadership skills.

​My first semester of college was a great experience, and I’ve grown so much as a person. It’s still unbelievable how much I’ve learned in the five months I’ve been here. I’m happy to be back for my second semester, and I look forward to learning more, getting involved more and excelling in my studies and in the leadership roles I pursue.