Understanding the Academic Journey of an International West African Engineering Graduate Student in the United States Conference

Adeniranye, DI, Berhane, BT. (2023). Understanding the Academic Journey of an International West African Engineering Graduate Student in the United States .

cited authors

  • Adeniranye, DI; Berhane, BT



  • International graduate students contribute significantly to the United States (U.S.) engineering academic and professional workforce. These students bring to the U.S. extensive knowledge from their home countries, strengthen diversity, classroom internationalization, and multicultural education (among the student body, faculty members, and staff in the U.S. universities), acquire world-class knowledge, and benefit the global economy by way of engineering contributions. However, graduate students from Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are generally understudied within the broader population of international engineering students. This is noteworthy because individuals from SSA have among the highest rates of degree attainment, specifically in engineering and other STEM fields. Students from some West African countries like Nigeria have among the highest levels of educational training of SSA students and Black populations more broadly. Expanding research on Black students from West Africa (WAFR) (a region within SSA) is particularly important since not all Black students are the same. This work responds to a growing call for more intra-study research within diverse groups that have historically been treated as homogeneous. As such, this study intends to illuminate their educational experiences before and after transitioning to the U.S. in engineering disciplines using a narrative inquiry approach. This work-in-progress begins this larger study by focusing on one student's (“Apex,” pseudonym) experiences in two contexts: (Nigeria, his country of origin and undergraduate study, and the U.S., where he transitioned for his Doctor of Philosophy [PhD]). Apex's educational experiences in engineering and the strategies he employed to navigate his transitioning will be documented through his narrative. Data will be derived from Apex's life and educational experiences in engineering before, during, and after he transitions to the U.S. from Nigeria. Results from this study will advance the literature by providing education researchers and practitioners with a novel and innovative understanding of Nigerian engineering students' (NES) experiences. It will advance knowledge of Nigerian undergraduate engineering programs and their benefits to international engineering graduate students. Ultimately, the findings will help inform practices within engineering programs to better support potential graduate students in making similar transitions and broaden the participation of African diasporic engineering students in the U.S.

publication date

  • June 25, 2023