“This degree has changed my life”: Interview with SNHU GEM graduate Rose Bampende Maskini

Woman standing outside and smiling in cap and gown holding diploma cover

SNHU GEM graduate, Rose, shares her experience pursuing a degree as a refugee and mother of four in Cape Town, South Africa.

For Rose Bampende Maskini, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and mother of four, walking across the stage at Southern New Hampshire University’s Fall Commencement ceremony was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. “This degree has changed my life, it has changed my family’s life,” said Rose in a recent interview with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). “I can give my input, I can be heard. I am able to speak confidently in front of people. It has given me back my self-esteem.”

“My story started with the desire for education. Born into a family of thirteen children, with two boys and eleven girls, I always wanted to go to university, but was not able to attend because of the cost,” Rose explained. Even after she got married and had children of her own, “the desire to pursue my studies was always there.” Rose studied with SNHU’s Global Education Movement (SNHU GEM) in South Africa. Today, she has been resettled in the United States, and is a graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications.

In November 2022, Rose flew to Manchester, New Hampshire to receive her diploma at SNHU’s Fall Commencement ceremony. “I was so emotional. I felt like I was going to cry, I was so happy. I am fortunate because I could never have done it without the resources put in place for students,” Rose said in her interview.

SNHU GEM and our in-country partner, the Scalabrini Center of Cape Town, provided Rose with the academic support, and employment and livelihood training she needed to pursue her degree. Once she was accepted into the program, SNHU GEM offered English and computer literacy classes to prepare Rose for her classes, and provided her with a laptop to complete her coursework. The Scalabrini Centre equipped Rose with a network of academic coaches and career counselors to guide her academic progress.

At SNHU GEM, many learners are balancing education, employment, and caring for their families. SNHU GEM’s flexible, self-driven and blended learning degree program enabled Rose to pursue her studies alongside her other responsibilities. “I worked night and day. As a mother of four, a breadwinner, the only time I had to work on my schoolwork was at night,” Rose said. Despite these difficulties, knowing that her family, community, and the Scalabrini Centre and SNHU GEM were supporting her was invaluable.

Rose isn’t planning to slow down after graduating with her bachelor’s degree. She hopes to pursue her master’s degree next. Above all, Rose said, “my biggest motivation is to be a role model to my children.” She believes that higher education is a pathway for refugees and displaced people like her to not only survive, but thrive. “When refugees are given opportunities like what I have received, we can have an impact on the country that received us, on our home country, and on society. We just need a chance.”

Woman standing outside and smiling in cap and gown holding diploma cover