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Samukelisiwe Ngwenya ’17

What drew you to Lake Forest College?

I was drawn to Lake Forest’s size and population. Another key thing was the professor-to-student ratio. I knew I was going to be in a new place, the U.S., and thought it would be nice to be able to cultivate a relationship with my professors. The study-abroad program here was attractive to me. I realized I could take credits abroad that would count toward my major. And then there was the whole vibe of liberal arts that I liked. Sometimes back at home, you can’t take classes outside your intended major. Right now I’m taking an art history class and I’ve just been blown away. I really like it. I know for a fact I wouldn’t’ have been able to do this if I was in a different educational environment.

Have you had experiences here—besides your classes—that have helped prepare you for your future career?

I was able to develop my leadership skills, which I didn’t think I had. I was in Students for Women’s Awareness Network (SWAN) my first year and helped organize The Vagina Monologues. I also helped on the Student Programming Board. I figured out I like being involved. I’m passionate about First Connection. I was a coordinator last year and out of that came Forester First, a mentorship program for select students from First Connection. Each year I get two mentees. It’s nice to see how first-year students grow over the semesters.

What do you do in your free time?

I go downtown and explore different ethnic neighborhoods. I keep a list of those I have seen and those I still need to do. I also meet up with friends and go to museums and art galleries in Chicago. On campus, I hang out with friends. I also like to read, usually history, politics, and non-fiction. 

How did you choose your area of study?

My passion is discovering new cultures and traditions and being able to draw the connections between the global and local areas to see how each has a significant contribution to make. By combining both international relations and sociology and anthropology, I believe my studies will allow me to venture more into how various societies interactions.

What did you think of the faculty?

One of aspects I enjoy the most about Lake Forest is the relationship between faculty and students. It is nice to having faculty that encourages your success as a student and beyond. 

What was your favorite class?

My favorite class at the moment is EDUC 322 Comparative Education because it gives a variety of case studies and theoretical perspective that help us challenge dominant ideas and equip us with critical thinking skills. 

Where have you studied off-campus?

I was able to study abroad for a whole year with two programs that are directly connected to Lake Forest. For the fall semester I studied abroad in Pune, India. Whereby, I had a host family who were really accommodating in helping me immerse into the Indian culture by participating in religious festivals and events, meeting extended family and traveling in around different parts of India. I then went on to study at Peking University and gain an insight into how the leading world power’s system and society functions. I was also able to take a rigorous language program that helped build my Mandarin skills.

What are your plans after graduation?

I’m waiting to hear about graduate school. I applied in Australia and New Zealand, and am applying for others in Canada and the U.S. I hope to get my master’s degree in international relations. That’s Plan A. Plan B is to take a year and work in an international educational institution, in research, or in PR.

Any advice for new students?

Be daring because you never know what you might find out about yourself, especially with the resources and environment Lake Forest College offers. Make the most of opportunities and do something you never thought you’d do. Challenge yourself.

Parting words?

It’s nice to leave your legacy, but always incorporate others within your legacy.