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'It is the only way I can give back'

'It is the only way I can give back'

With less than three years of education to go, Barbas Nyaosi’s ambitions to introduce medical knowledge to his home country are closer than ever.

A longtime student leader at Winona State University–Rochester, Barbas is now on the brink of achieving a nursing doctorate. His journey up until this point hasn’t been without its challenges, however.

Having traveled from Kenya to receive education, Barbas has a thing or two to say about culture shock: “You come here and everybody has a different accent and different ideas — it is very difficult to understand, but the struggle to fit in encouraged me to work harder. I think this challenge has helped me become the person I am today.”

The decision to move to America for formal education was one Barbas and his family has assumed for many years. His parents live in America and were helpful in encouraging Barbas to make the move. In regard to his Kenyan roots, Barbas says, “We have very close family ties. Sometimes I miss my home, my family, my culture, but I look forward to visits, and one day returning more permanently.”

Barbas began his education studying forensic sciences, but eventually switched to nursing. According to Barbas, “At first I wasn’t sure if it was the right move, but after I became a nursing assistant, I really became passionate and I knew it was what I want to do.”

Barbas accredits his success to the support of his fiancée, family and campus community. “WSU has not only the institution for knowledge but a great place where like, right-minded people meet, work together and fall in love," he says. "WSU is a great school that will stand with generations to come.”

Kenyan medical practices are different than American ones. As Barbas puts it: “In America, you are very specialized — very good at one thing. In Kenya, we do a whole range of things and the doctors there have a whole lot of knowledge but not so much fine detail.”

Barbas is looking forward to returning to Kenya after the completion of his doctorate for a permanent residence. He plans to revisit America periodically to stay up to date on the most recent medical practices and technologies, but he will work in his home country.

“I want to give what knowledge I received here back to the land from where I originate. It is the only way I can give back.”

This article is part of a collection of stories being published in partnership with Winona State University-Rochester.

Cover: Barbas, left, after completing his graduate studies at WSU-Rochester / Photo by Dr. Jeanine Gangeness

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