Like many 20-year olds, Sumaiya Ferdawsi is a pro at using social media. Unlike most, however, she is tweeting to friends and family in Bangladesh, while hoping someday to work behind the scenes at one of the digital behemoths.
“We came a year ago,” says Ferdawsi, who spoke little English when she first arrived in the U.S. from the South Asian nation. “I started at Macomb 20 days after moving here. I learned the language by watching movies.”
Ferdawsi, her mom and two siblings moved from Sylhet, an urban area in northern Bangladesh, to Warren, after choosing Southeast Michigan as the U.S. region in which they wanted to relocate. The reason for that choice was blue and gold.
“We moved here for the University of Michigan (U of M)” says Ferdawsi, who intends to major in computer engineering at U of M after transferring from Macomb, where she is taking math classes.
Ferdawsi dreams of working at Google (whose CEO attended U of M) – or Facebook or Twitter. In Bangladesh, she had passed the entrance exam at Dhaka University, known to many as the Oxford of the East, and was two months into a software engineering program when her family decided to emigrate.
“We moved here for a better life, and I like it a lot. My favorite class is calculus and Professor Musallam is a really great teacher,” says Ferdawsi. “Macomb’s students are so friendly; they have helped me a lot.”
That’s not to say there isn’t much about her homeland that she misses. “There is a lot of natural beauty there,” she says, counting the Bay of Bengal, the world’s longest sea beach, and the tea gardens and tropical forests in the Surma Valley, near where she grew up, among her favorites.
Ferdawsi returned to Bangladesh with her immediate family this summer to attend the wedding of her brother, a Dhaka graduate and government secretary. In traditional fashion, the ladies decorated their arms and hands with elaborate henna tattoos and the bride wore red. Her henna tattoo had not yet faded when Ferdawsi brought her dad (newly emigrated) to visit the office of College Advancement and Community Relations at South Campus. She also brought gifts for those who provided mentoring during her work-study assignment last semester, which she will repeat in the fall.
“With work-study, my schedule is arranged around my classes so I can easily maintain my classes and my job. It saves me time and helps me gain career experience,” says Ferdawsi. “The campus is so big, but everyone at the College is so kind. And now I have a lot of friends here and in Bangladesh, too.”