As colleges across the nation prepare to resume classes for the Spring 2012 semesters, a one-time small and overlooked liberal-arts learning institution in the heart of Oklahoma City continues to rejoice as their student enrollment has surged over the course of a two-year time frame. Their recent growth spurt cannot be attributed solely to local communities, however, as the University has been blessed to see a substantial increase in international students as well.
One student in particular, Jacobin Ainatsiferana, made the long trek from Madagascar to play basketball for the NAIA Division II in Bethany, Oklahoma.
It wasn’t an easy road, however, as the freshman encountered many bumps on his journey to America.
Before coming to Southwestern Christian, Jacobin attended Vision Valley School in Antananarivo, the capital city located in the heart of Madagascar. While at Vision Valley, he was able to learn English as a third language, inspiring within him a dream of receiving a higher education in America someday.
Vision Valley taught valuable attributes to Jacobin, such as patience and perseverance, as he was one of four students in his graduating senior class. Faith and spirituality played a large role in developing his ambition to follow his dream of a higher education. Jacobin recalls the school song at Vision Valley that contained the saying “God’s got a dream for you.” The Bible helped validate this phrase as Jacobin clung to the hopes that God had a plan for his life. Jeremiah 29:11 helped feed his hunger for a better life - a holy life - as the Lord claims “I know the plans I have for you.”
After eight years at Vision Valley, Jacobin began to spin his plans into action in early January as he and his mom looked at several universities in the United States in which he might be able to attend. Even with his hopes held high, he realized that attending school in the U.S. might not be an easy task and things began looking financially problematic. Doors that were once opened for Jacobin now seemed impossible to walk through and his journey seemed never-ending. Nevertheless, he refused to turn back.
“It felt as if I were being chased by wolves on a one-way path that leads to a cliff,” stated Jacobin. “Finally, I jumped off that cliff with my only comfort being that I knew God would catch me at some point on the way.”
By March, several people had given donations towards his collegiate education. A family friend in Choctaw, Oklahoma offered Jacobin a place to stay and another family friend from Mooreland, Oklahoma provided a car. It was at this point that Jacobin discovered Southwestern Christian University. With his passion for basketball and Christ in mind, he believed that it would be a perfect fit.
“To this very day, I am amazed at how everything came together in applying to Southwestern. The documents they needed from me were easy to obtain, my interview at the embassy went smoother than predicted, and my two-day flight across the globe was as stress-free as least expected.”
Today, Jacobin is happy to be on the campus of SCU during weekdays while calling Choctaw his “home” on the weekends. He is also a successful member of the men’s junior varsity basketball squad.
His thoughts on living in America so far? It has proved to be a convenient option for him.
“America is different from Madagascar in the way that everything you need here is way more accessible,” declared Jacobin. “Everything I need is at the tip of my fingers.”
Southwestern Christian University is happy to be home to Christian examples such as Jacobin and hopes to be home to many more students of such stature.
Posted on Tue, January 24, 2012
by Kasey Gardner