“Sprinter” Students: How SNHU GEM’s Flexible Model Helps Students to Thrive

SNHU GEM Graduate standing in regalia

Six recent graduates share how competency-based education enables them to set their own pace – and forge their own path.

SNHU GEM alumni Patrick, Ali, Noella, Muhumure, Nadera, and Aimable have a few things in common. They all live and study in Lebanon or Africa, they all work closely with one of our in-country partners, and they all belong to the latest group of students to complete their U.S.-accredited associate or bachelor’s degree in one year or less. 

These “sprinter” students applied their remarkable focus and persistence to shape their own educational paths using the flexible, competency-based education (CBE) model at Southern New Hampshire University’s Global Education Movement (SNHU GEM). Like many of today’s learners, SNHU GEM students have many competing priorities, including work and family obligations, in addition to navigating the challenges of life as a refugee. Our CBE model prioritizes learning outcomes rather than time spent in a classroom, allowing students to speed up or slow down their studies based on their needs, their lives, and their contexts. This truly allows us to meet refugee students where they are.

Moreover, SNHU GEM aligns our degree programs with the skills that today’s employers look for. Coupled with the wraparound supports provided by our in-country partners – Multi Aid Programs (MAPS), the Lebanese Association for Scientific Research (LASeR), UNRWA, Jesuit Refugee Service, Kepler, ATE-Hub, and the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town – SNHU GEM graduates are ready for the workforce. The proof is in the numbers: more than 85% of SNHU GEM alumni are meaningfully employed within six months of graduation.

We are so proud of our recent graduates – more from them below.

Selfie of SNHU GEM graduate

Patrick Buzumuremyi is a refugee from Nairobi, Kenya and a SNHU GEM graduate. He holds an associate degree in general studies and a bachelor’s degree in management. “My mother, who is ill, was my source of inspiration to finish my AS and BA fast,” Patrick says. “I knew that upon completion of my SNHU GEM degree, I would be exposed to internships that would allow me to help out, provide the medicines that she requires, and take my siblings to school as she is not able to.” He attributes his ability to complete his degree quickly to SNHU GEM’s focus on project-based learning. Patrick aspires to a career as a GEM Hub academic reviewer.

Headshot of SNHU GEM graduate

Ali Damrji holds an associate degree in general studies and a bachelor’s degree in management from SNHU GEM. He attributes his success to CBE: “Competency-based education is a true game changer, offering unparalleled flexibility and convenience in matching my academic pursuits with my busy work schedule. With the ability to study from anywhere at any time, I can truly make learning a part of my daily routine without sacrificing other important commitments.” He also credits SNHU GEM’s in-country partner, LASeR, with going above and beyond in providing coaching sessions, academic advisors, and constant follow-up and support for learners. Ali plans to continue his education by pursuing a master’s degree in management.

Headshot of SNHU GEM student

Noella Kalala recently completed her associate degree in general studies and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in management. “My SNHU GEM degree will increase my access to job opportunities and offer me more flexibility in where I choose to work,” Noella says. She plans to use her degree to pursue her dream of being a human resources specialist. “There is no easy way to do it,” she reminds her fellow SNHU GEM students of pursuing a degree amid difficult circumstances. “Just don’t lose hope.”

SNHU GEM graduate posing in their regalia

Muhumure Pacific graduated from SNHU GEM with an associate degree in general studies and a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management. Muhumure credits SNHU GEM’s online, project-based learning with allowing him to complete his degree quickly. “I didn’t have to wait for specific term dates for the courses to be loaded; I could access them at any time, even while traveling,” he says. “I could submit as many projects as I could and keep working on other projects while they were being reviewed.” Muhumure plans to use his SNHU GEM degree to help underserved communities access quality healthcare.

SNHU GEM Graduate standing in regalia

Nadera Alhusni completed her associate degree in general studies and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in management at SNHU GEM. She attributes her ability to complete her degree quickly to the online tutors that SNHU GEM offers, who helped her conquer projects in unfamiliar subjects. Nadera has some words for her fellow SNHU GEM students: “I would advise all SNHU GEM students who are finishing their studies today to never give up on their dreams, despite any current obstacles. Just keep in mind that these obstacles are only temporary, whereas your future career will be permanent.”

Headshot of SNHU GEM graduate

Aimable Twizere graduated with an associate degree and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in management at SNHU GEM. He appreciates the fact that CBE allows him to work according to the goals that he sets for himself. “Having a SNHU GEM degree boosts both my confidence and my competencies in entering the job market,” he adds. Aimable advises fellow SNHU GEM students to develop their time management skills, create a timetable for finishing each project, and make time for studying, networking, and working without sacrificing their sleep.