Godwin discovered WVU’s website during a search for graduate programs that offered “a specialization in communication for public good, a kind of communication field that will emphasize looking beyond pecuniary gains for corporations and organizations,” he said.
He was admitted into a Michigan school, but chose WVU, where he will be entering his second year as a journalism master’s student at the Reed College of Media in Fall 2023.
The hook? It was simply how everyone at the College, such as its Director of Graduate Studies Steve Urbanski, interacted with him. “They were so warm and ready to assist me, even with the fact that I was an international student.”
Were there any major adjustments you had to make as a first-time international student here at WVU?
As an international student, I had to understand what my professors wanted from me, how to meet learning outcomes and deliver on assigned tasks. WVU’s learning infrastructure is advanced, but in no time, I adjusted to it all. My grades reflect this, too. The professors have been so supportive, and they want students to succeed. The theoretical and practical trainings I have undergone has been transformational to my person. I see the world differently. I look out to create solutions and be more empathetic.
Have you been able to find a sense of place in the community?
It did not take me long to find my place, as various organizations helped me settle in no time. The African Students Association, International Students Services, Office of Graduate Education and Life, made it easy and assisted me with information and other things I needed along the way. This is why I am also committing myself to helping current and incoming students settle well and find a sense of place in the community.
In the next academic session, I will be serving as the secretary of the African Students Association. I have also been formally appointed as a member of the WVU Wellness & Mental Health Student Advisory Board. Also, I was elected in to the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, as the senator for the College of Media, and I will be serving on the executive board of the Public Relations Student Society of America. This might sound like a lot, but I am fueled by my commitment to make my immediate community better, and society in general. WVU also provides an opportunity for students to volunteer and serve others, with their knowledge, skill and expertise. We owe a duty of care to one another, and this is exhibited in how much we are willing to help the next person, or at the least, contribute to their wellbeing.
Tell me a little bit about your hometown and growing up and living there.
By ancestry, I am from the South-South region of Nigeria, Akwa Ibom state, precisely. My dad’s job made him move to the northwestern state of Kaduna, where I was born and raised. My home state in the south-south, is one of the major oil-producing states in Nigeria and we are known for our rich cultural heritage. We would easily pass as one of the people with the best cooks and delicacies in the world. Recently, a young lady from my state broke the Guinness World Record for the longest cooking time by an individual (100 hours).
Growing up and living in the northwest of Nigeria was also beautiful for me. I grew up speaking the Hausa language (local dialect in the north). I also grew up listening to the Voice of America, broadcasting in Hausa language and it is all beautiful now. The V.O.A established a Hausa language service in 1979, which is funded by the U.S government. The language is spoken by around 60 million people, across eight countries in West Africa, that are important to the foreign relations of the U.S.
Generally, my interest stemmed from how much influence communication has on society. Someone once said, “all world problems are communication problems.” This is true. From pandemics to wars to conflicts to misunderstandings, there is a communication perspective to their solutions. Journalism for me, is about solving problems in communities and making humanity better.
We now have what is called Public Interest Communication and Solutions Journalism. WVU’s land-grant mission has given me the opportunity to pursue this passion. My overarching research pursuit with the PIC lab is focused on helping communities build resilience towards public health emergencies and bolstering pandemic preparedness through strategic communication and combatting of disinformation and misinformation. I have had the opportunity to work on projects with my professors (Julia Fraustino and Dan Totzkay) on long COVID, vaccine confidence, post-pandemic trust in science communication, etc.
Any cultural adjustments you've had to make here?
My food taste has changed. While I still love African cuisines and delicacies, I can go months without them. Now you will find me enjoying pepperoni rolls, too.
In terms of social life, it was also a bit different from what I was accustomed to, but the saving grace for me was that I was already exposed to some aspects of the American culture. Media globalization has done a great ton of work in bringing other cultures closer to us, thanks to mainstream and social media. I was already a consumer of the NBA, MLS, Hollywood films, a moderate bit of the pop culture, too. On a lighter note, one thing I could not learn until I got here was football. Football meant something else in the continent of Africa; however, now I am huge fan of college football and the NFL.
What has surprised you the most about WVU?
The fantastic balance between education and social life. There is the opportunity it gives students to have a life outside the classroom and still not derail from their learning. It’s a positive surprise, and it is good for the mental health of students. On a Saturday, you might find me at Milan Puskar Stadium cheering on the Mountaineers. On Monday, all my focus is turned to research.