“‘Spartans Will’ … it may be just two words, but the message it carries is beyond influential. It leaves no room for backing down and accepting defeat. It teaches us to fight until the end and believe in ourselves.”
These words from graduating management senior Rumaisa Sababa Rahman perfectly capture her journey at MSU as an international student, resident assistant and role model. Rahman ventured abroad from Dhaka, Bangladesh, to pursue her degree and chose MSU because of its diversity and strong reputation.
Like many students, Rahman had to adjust to life on campus and overcome cultural challenges — like trying cafeteria food, finding friends with similar interests and being homesick — but she eventually found her way.
“In retrospect, I take all this as a learning experience,” she said. “Eventually things got better, and today I am leaving campus with friends who have become like family and acquaintances who I hope to keep in touch with all my life.”
Alongside her peers, Rahman had to navigate her final semester in a virtual setting and overcome a host of challenges amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, but she has done so with Spartan strength and pride.
“I was stuck in a foreign country with absolutely no idea when I would be able to go home since the Bangladesh borders had been closed once the pandemic began,” Rahman explained. Despite the uncertainty and changes, she did not back down from her course work or her job responsibilities.
“My RA role changed in terms of operation during the pandemic because most of my students went home,” Rahman explained. “However, my role as a mentor became even more important during this time.”
Rahman frequently reached out to her Akers Hall residents to offer support and social interaction, making sure they had what they needed to succeed. “As a Spartan, I want to lead by example and show that no matter what, we always have each other’s back,” she said.
To celebrate Rahman’s achievements at MSU and attend her graduation ceremony, Rahman’s parents traveled to East Lansing, but after they had arrived, the university announced the in-person ceremony would be postponed. Despite the change and disappointment, her parents’ presence helped Rahman finish strong.
“Their support got me to the finish line,” she said. “My brother, who is in Canada, has been my life coach all along, and his pep talks helped me sprint to the finish line as well!”
Understandably, Rahman was upset that she would not be able to celebrate this moment in person with her family, friends and MSU faculty. What was especially hard for Rahman was realizing that she would likely not be able to return to celebrate her graduation at a later date, due to the stringent visa policies in Bangladesh. However, she has used the Spartan spirit to overcome this change as well, staying positive and finding closure.
“I dreamed of walking across the stage since my first day of college,” she said. “I tried to find closure by just visiting my favorite spots [on campus], reminiscing, taking pictures and then saying goodbye. I held a small dinner with a few of my friends and tried to find closure in that as well.”
Looking ahead, Rahman would like to pursue a career in management or human resources in Bangladesh to alleviate poverty in her home country.
“I would like to work for a business who has great corporate social responsibility [practices] and is working toward the betterment of the standard of living of underprivileged Bangladeshis,” she explained.
Rahman emphasized that no matter where she ends up, she is a Spartan for life and will always carry that spirit and feeling with her. “I will believe in myself and persevere because I know that I will succeed. I know it deep in my soul because I am a Spartan, and ‘Who Will? Spartans Will.’”