It was early 2022 when Adam Mohammed began the search to further his nursing education from his home in Tamale, Ghana.

58 of 766 nursing students (8% of the student body) was born outside the United States

He had already come far in his education, working as a registered nurse in a general medical unit of Tamale Teaching Hospital, tending everyone from laboring mothers to trauma and post-surgical patients, but always felt the pull to teach.

That pull could be traced back, in part, to the support he received from a high school economics teacher in the orphanage where he lived. By becoming a nursing professor, Mohammed hopes to pass on the inspiration because, “As a teacher, you can impact whole systems of people and the future.”

In 2011, Rahmatullah Zahid was in his third year of medical residency at the Afghan Army Hospital in Kabul when he was offered a special immigrant visa, due to the nature of his work with American forces. Arriving with his family in Charlottesville in 2016, he first worked at UVA Health as a phlebotomist before learning about the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) master’s program from colleagues, some of whom were CNL graduates themselves. Now a U.S. citizen, Zahid—who calls the School “very student centered”—will become a nurse next spring.

"I looked to talk to people who were at the schools I was considering . . . All the UVA students were so welcoming!"

PhD in nursing student Adam Mohammed, of Ghana

Sujeong Sarah Go worked in a South Korean ICU before coming to the United States seeking advanced nursing roles. After earning a master’s degree and practicing at a community clinic in Los Angeles for six years, she enrolled in the School’s PhD program with the intent to study health disparities. Like her faculty mentors, Go’s dissertation will focus on improving access to health promotion and chronic disease management for underserved populations—a theme deeply important to her nursing practice.

Number of nursing students who are from Central and South America

“We don’t even try to recruit nursing students globally,” admitted Theresa Carroll, the School’s senior assistant dean, who noted that UVA itself doesn’t typically attract a large population of international students. “I think it’s more important to attract students from any place who are open to meeting people with different backgrounds.” International students, she said, carry out recruitment through the power of their own magnetism.

International students say the School’s reputation for warmth, inclusivity, and support is a big draw. Mohammed sought an education in a place that felt friendly to nursing newcomers, where helpfulness is the rule, and a community where dedicated and intentional faculty and staff offer individualized attention to their students. 

“I looked to talk to people who were at the schools I was considering,” said Mohammed, and those at UVA really stood out. “The students at UVA were all so welcoming!”

Now in his first year of the PhD program, Mohammed is giddy, and, even in occasionally stressful situations, settling in. “I was nervous about orientation,” he said, “in a big, new building with many new people. But everyone was smiling, interacting, interested in what you wanted to do with your education.”

His only criticism? “The food here is different.” But his cohort has come in handy for this, too. “My fellow students took me to a great grocery store.”

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