Scott Eyong Kemah
Scott Eyong Kemah from Buea, Cameroon, is a busy man. A few days before sitting down to speak with me, he had been learning the basics of cloning.
“We just got done with an introductory project,” he began, “that had to deal with PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and gel electrophoresis. We used it to measure the migration of DNA fragments. From there, you go on to precipitation, and there's more after that. The reason we are doing all of this is to know the beginning of how to clone.”
Such is the life of a science student at Jamestown Community College. But it's a long way from West Africa to the laboratories in JCC's Science Center.
Finding the Right Fit
When he decided that he wanted to study in the U.S., Scott began scouring the Internet for potential colleges. Price was a key consideration for him, but so was the student-faculty relationship. Would professors work with him if he needed help? How accommodating were they? He knew that the student-faculty relationship would determine his success more than anything else at his new college.
From looking at the website, said Scott, “I saw that they were very open. I saw that the teachers and students have close interactions. I was really happy with what I saw, and that’s one of the things that made me want to apply.” It was an added bonus that JCC was more affordable than the other colleges he’d been looking at.
In the end, Scott applied to three colleges. He chose JCC for much the same reason he applied here in the first place: the people.
“Victoria [Peterson, JCC’s International Outreach Coordinator] (e-mail) was very easy to work with,” he said. Coordinators at other institutions weren’t as helpful, and Scott knew that wherever he went he’d have to work closely with the person in that position.
So far, everything has exceeded Scott’s expectations. Not only does he still keep in close contact with Victoria, but he also has made friends with other students, both native and international. He's even had the opportunity to take side trips with other international students to see local attractions like Niagara Falls.
At this point, though, Scott’s not sure just where he’ll carve out a niche for himself. Although his official major right now is biotechnology, he's considering switching to a different program. Regardless, he does know that he wants to remain in the U.S. to complete his studies. SUNY at Buffalo and SUNY Fredonia are two leading candidates at this point. He knows one thing for certain, though. His time at JCC will help him get there.
Advice for other International Students: “I would encourage anyone looking to come to the U.S. for college to come to a community college. JCC has the things that any international student needs when they're looking to continue their studies. The interaction between the students and teachers works really well. They’re always willing to help their students. They actually wanted me to come to them with problems, which is something I wasn’t used to. It makes it a great place to study for international students.”
Biggest Surprise: “I thought [JCC] was actually going to be a really big institution, but when I came here, I was a bit shocked that it was smaller than what I thought, which was good. The other thing that I really like is that people are just so friendly here. People are always willing to help. I wasn’t expecting that, and thought that I would have to be careful, but that’s not true at all.”
Biggest Adjustment: “The language. My accent was a little bit challenging. Sometimes people would say that I speak very fast and that my pronunciation wasn’t as good. People didn’t understand me when I talked and wanted me to speak a little bit slower. It’s gotten a lot better, though.”