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From the UK to MU. SHP Student Spotlight: Cal Lawanson

Q: Why did you choose Mizzou from London? What inspired you to study here?

A: “My family was in a transition to America. My dad moved to Kansas City around 10 years ago and as he moved down here he told us to start thinking of schools we would want to go to. He mentioned Mizzou and I decided to take a tour and look in to the Athletic Training program. I fell in love with the campus and School of Health Professions, and was impressed by the AT program director. I started Mizzou as an international student, but once I gained proof of residency I was switched over.”

Q: What are your career plans? How do you plan on achieving those plans?

A: “I plan to be the head athletic trainer of a sports team, ideally the Chelsea F.C. back in London. I plan to achieve this by taking everything one step at a time, which seems to be the most efficient way to get things done at the appropriate times. Also by utilizing a lot of resources offered here at the University and School of Health Professions because I know they care about my success. There are a lot of opportunities to network and prepare for the future, so I will take advantage of those.”

Q: What are some challenges of being so far from home/in another country? Benefits?

A: “My big sister, who recently got married and had a baby, is still in London, along with my big brother, niece and nephew, and lots of cousins. I don’t get to visit them as much as I’d like. My mom is in Nigeria, so I maybe only see her once a year and for a short period of time. We overcome the distance by keeping up through Facetime and phone calls. It is hard; I do miss my mom and family. But I do know they are always there when I need them for anything, and things have gotten easier over the years.”

“A benefit has been gaining independence and developing my own sense of responsibility and management skills. I am a very open-minded and coming to America was fun because I got to experience new cultures and ways of life. It was a little bit of a shock at first, but once I saw all of the opportunities and possibilities, I knew it would be a good experience.”

Q: What are some of the things that make Mizzou/Columbia feel like “home” to you?

A: “The people and my peers. In my AT program there are only 24 of us and I’ve been with them my whole time here. We’ve grown closer and become like a family. Columbia is a quiet place, compared to London, and I seem to flourish in that type of environment. Friends, professors, and teachers in my program have been available to help me out with anything, because they know I’m not from here.”

Q: What advice could you provide other international students?

A: “Be open-minded and vulnerable, that way you are more available to learn things. Once you get all the fundamentals of the environment and the people you work with mastered, you can make the experience better for you. Also, it is okay to be uncomfortable; great things come when you are out of your comfort zone. The attention will come, don’t indulge in it too much. Many people will be interested in your culture, so sometimes it can become redundant. But nonetheless, have fun with the experience.”

Q: What is the most rewarding or valuable part of being at Mizzou?

A: “Getting accepted into the AT program and being a part of that family. I’ve been able to do a lot of different things through the program.”

Q: What is something you wish you would have known before coming to MIzzou?

A: “The need for a car here. Everything is far away from each other and I’m unsure about the public transportation. Back in London I could easily walk, ride a bike, or ride the bus and get anywhere. Also, everything is not like the movies. I watched a lot of American movies to try and get a sense of the culture, but when I got here, it was totally different. The world is harsher. I wish I would have known more about slang and the way Americans talk.

Q: How can studying in another country enhance a person’s college experience?

A: “It makes someone more knowledgeable. We are at a young age where we still collect a lot of information and are trying to figure ourselves out. Seeing things outside of your own niche and being more outwardly aware helps you learn from the positive and negative things going on around you.”

Q: What do you do as a student ambassador?

A: “When we do have international students come in, Cheri will have me go talk to them about my experience of coming to Mizzou and being from another country. I talk about how SHP focuses on success by helping you be comfortable and successful.”