International student becomes ‘definition of a success story’

Roberto Campos

On a Tuesday morning in December, Shan Hussein sat in the UC East Fireside Lounge. Her wavy brown hair falls below her shoulders, she sports a light blue USI Screaming Eagles sweatshirt, jeans and a gold necklace that hangs off of her neck revealing a charm that reads USI.

She’s a typical senior USI  student, managing classes, course work and a job. But one thing separates her from most students – she’s an international student.

First coming to USI as part of a six week long Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program in 2010, Hussein was awarded a full scholarship to USI so she could pursue an undergraduate degree in economics as well as a minor in social work.

Hussein, natively Kurd, previously graduated from the University of Sulaymaniya in northern Iraq with an undergraduate degree in engineering. Sulaymaniya is her hometown.

Hussein’s parents have supported her endeavors and continue to push her to pursue her aspirations.

“Both of my parents are very proud of me,” Hussein said. “My dad constantly tells me how proud he is and how I need to improve myself more and be more independent because there is no difference between male and female.”

Hussein’s mother, a writer, helped inspire her to pursue studying at USI and has served as her role model of what a woman should be.

“My mother taught me how to be an independent woman and how to look (at) the women around me and how to feel their pain and how to do something about it,” Hussein said. “We started reading about how many women were getting killed. I was about 13 when we started this, and we didn’t see this to be fair to women.”

“She didn’t want me to end up being one of those women,” Hussein said. “She wanted me to be an independent woman and to depend on myself and to value myself,” Hussein said.

Eventually Hussein wants to take what she has learned throughout her college career to help the people of her nation.

“For me, there are two paths,” Hussein said. “Either I want to go back to my home country and start my own business to train women as construction workers or apply for a MBA program and a doctorate program.”

Providing training for women to become construction workers is a way to provide opportunities to women in her country.

For Hussein, USI has been an experience that has allowed her to learn, grow her leadership abilities and become familiar with American culture.

Phillis Brown, president of USI’s International Club, has known Hussein throughout her time at USI and has witnessed her grow in her time here.

“(Hussein) has flourished here at USI,” Brown said. “She has really made her experience here at USI the best it could be because she is not only involved with international club, but also photo services and women’s leadership.”

“She’s the definition of a success story,” Brown said.

Whether Hussein decides to pursue a MBA program or return to Iraq, her aspirations remain the same – she wants to help women.

“USI has been great to me. I love this place,” Hussein said. “I’m surrounded by wonderful people here, my bosses in (USI’s) Photography Services and University Divisions are all wonderful and I keep learning from them and looking up to them to learn their leadership styles and to take something away from every experience here.”