GC Grad overcomes obstacles to achieve dream
Always taking care of others, that’s how Quaowu Ohin says his friends and family would describe him. Quaowu will soon make that his full-time job when he graduates Gaston College with his associate degree in nursing in May and starts his job as an Intensive Care Unit nurse with CaroMont Health. With many obstacles along the way, it has taken him seven years to get to this point, but he says the journey has been worth it.
Quaowu made his way to the United States in 2001 from West Africa where he grew up. “Like most people I came here to have a better life and to have more opportunities,” said Quaowu. In 2015 he started his journey to become a nurse before he ended up at Gaston College in the fall of 2020. While Quaowu says he feels like being a nurse and helping people get better is his calling and his faith has guided him to choose this career, he is doing this for his family. A husband and father to three children, he says he wants to show his children that they can do anything they set their mind to. “I want them to see you can do anything and it does not matter where you come from, who you are, or how people see you.”
Nursing is already a challenging program, and Quaowu says the language barrier he has faced has made getting his degree that much more difficult. When Quaowu came to the United States he did not know any English and it took him awhile to adjust. “Coming to a new country you have to learn the culture and adapt to a new life. It was a huge challenge and still is.” At one point he almost gave up his dream of becoming a nurse if it were not for his faith and the instructors at Gaston College. If his grades showed he was falling behind, his instructors would reach out and check in with him. From there they would help him develop plans to study and better understand the material. “I have the most amazing instructors,” said Quaowu. “I have to give a shout-out to all of them, especially Dr. Simpson and Ms. Pressley. They know the barriers I face, and they always push me and encourage me to be better.”
“A dream come true.” That’s how Quaowu described his upcoming graduation and new job. Aside from the support he received from his instructors, Quaowu credits his wife for helping him make it across the stage on graduation day. Quaowu hopes his story will inspire others from similar backgrounds to chase after their dreams. “I would encourage everyone to never give up. Know your weaknesses and work on them and have a good support system around you.” His story may have already inspired someone near and dear to him. Quaowu says his 13-year-old daughter has already talked about her dream of becoming a doctor.
Despite having a job lined up after graduation, Quaowu says his studies will continue. He hopes while working he can continue his education and become a nurse practitioner. While graduating means his time at Gaston College will end, Quaowu says he will always look back and be grateful for where his time at the College has gotten him and the future ahead.