My name is Onyeka Ononye and I'm an international student from Nigeria. Before I decided to leave my home country and come to MC, I had searched for schools with the regular criteria: liberal arts education, small class size, low faculty to student ratio and a good website. I was of the opinion that a good and well developed website showed that the college was able to sell itself to students who weren't able to have a campus tour. That might sound like a pretty funny criterion, but that was really important. The major deciding factor though was its location.

"Tennessee......are you kidding?" was one of the statements a lot of my friends made when I told them I was considering coming to MC. You see, I live in a place that's pretty commercial and fashion forward, so just like the lot of my friends, applying to states like New York, California and the likes were more favourable. Nonetheless, I was up to the adventure of traversing unfamiliar territory, so I decide to go to Maryville College.

Upon my arrival, I began to lose confidence. I guess I should have expected it to happen considering that I was there alone without family and friends, but this didn't last for long. MC has one of the best international campus communities you can think of. Making friends from parts of the world you never even knew existed gives you a whole new perspective on issues ranging from politics to personal perceptions. The first organization I joined was the Global Citizenship Organization. This organization consists of both international and American students who have studied abroad or are just internationally minded. This group soon became my family as it was easy to express the way I was feeling since most of us felt the same way. I can't say that I've learned a new language yet, but I know a word on two in Moldovan, Spanish and even Thai. I also know how to write my name in Arabic and Korean.

Maryville College to me is a place where diversity is celebrated. MC allows you give your opinions both in and out of the classroom. It's a nice community filled with people who always have smiles on their faces.

Coming to MC has opened doors to many opportunities for me. I am the president of an organization called Voices of Praise. This choir will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in March and I will have the opportunity to sing with Pastor Donnie McClurkin, an award winning gospel musician. I am also a resident assistant(RA) in the female freshman residence hall. As an RA, I have met some of the most talented people in my life. As a Bonner scholar, I have also gotten the opportunity to volunteer at sites I would never in a million years have imagined possible.

So far, I've been talking about my experiences, but this blog wouldn't be complete without talking about the college’s academic standards. As a biology major, I can definitely say that MC has a strong science program. At MC students are given the opportunity to learn and then put all those theories into practice. The professors are so knowledgeable and don't hesitate to impart their knowledge to their students. One way by which they do this is by offering lab apprenticeship positions to students. I am really excited to be a lab apprentice next semester because I know it will take me much closer to becoming involved in professional genetic research.

I can definitely say that even though I still have a couple of years left for my undergraduate studies, I am glad that I get to spend it in a place such as Maryville College. HAPPY NEW YEAR!