Altruism is a way of life for Quaowu Ohin.
The West African native (he emigrated 21 years ago) will soon be among the May graduates of Gaston College, according to its marketing department. Recently asked how his family and friends might describe him, Ohin observed that they’d tell people he’s always taking care of others.
And Ohin will soon make that his full-time job when he earns an associate degree in nursing and starts his job as an intensive-care unit nurse with CaroMont Health. With many obstacles along the way, it has taken him seven years to get to this point, but he says the journey has been worth it.
“Like most people,” he recently said, “I came here to have a better life and to have more opportunities.”
In 2015, he started his journey to become a nurse before he ended up at Gaston College in the autumn of 2020. Whilst Ohin says he feels being a nurse and helping people get better is his calling, and his faith has guided him to choose this career, he is doing this for his family. A husband and a father to three children, he says he wants to show his kids that they can do anything to which they set their minds.
“I want them to see,” he said, “it does not matter where you come from, who you are or how people see you.”
Nursing is already a challenging program, and Ohin says the language barrier he has faced has made getting his degree that much more difficult. When Ohin arrived in America, he did not know any English, and it took him a while to adjust.
“Coming to a new country, you have to learn the culture and adapt to a new life,” he said. “It was a huge challenge and still is.”
His faith and his teachers at Gaston College kept him from giving up on his dream. If his grades showed he was falling behind, his instructors would check in with him. They helped him develop plans to study and better understand the material.
“I have the most amazing instructors,” said Ohin. “I have to give a shout-out to all of them, especially Dr. (Stacy) Simpson and (director of nursing programs) Leslie Pressley. They know the barriers I face, and they always push me and encourage me to be better.”
He added that his upcoming graduation and new job form “a dream come true.”
Aside from the support he received from his instructors, Ohin credits his wife for helping him make it across the stage on graduation day. He hopes his story will inspire others from similar backgrounds to chase after their dreams.
“I would encourage everyone to never give up,” he said. “Know your weaknesses and work on them and have a good support system around you.”
His story may have already inspired someone near and dear to him. Ohin says his 13-year-old daughter has already talked about her dream of becoming a doctor.
Despite having a job lined up after graduation, Ohin says his studies will continue. He hopes while working he can continue his education and become a nurse practitioner. While graduation means his time at Gaston College will end, Ohin says he will always look back and be grateful for where his time at the college has gotten him and the future ahead.