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Alvernia has record amount of international students from Saudi Arabia

READING, Pa. – A young woman, and her global journey, from the eastern region of Saudi Arabia, to the Pennsylvania Dutch Berks County.

“There are many differences between Saudi Arabia and the United States but I’m enjoying every single difference,” said Hajear Alshaheen, a freshman in Alvernia University’s nursing program. “I wish to boost my fellow Saudi women’s confidence and inspire them to become nurses.”

Alshaheen is one of 37 undergraduate students from Saudi Arabia, the most in Alvernia’s history. Officials say international students are drawn to the school’s quiet setting, but close proximity to big cities.

“This area is the best area for international students that we don’t want to have that stressful crowded city life, but also we want to be able to have access to the cities when we need to,” said Sibel Ahi, Ph.D., director of Alvernia University’s International Student recruitment.

That’s important to Alshaheen, 28, whose goal is to earn her BSN at Alvernia and train at one of the region’s hospitals before taking even further leaps in her career.

“Regarding my long-term, I’m planning to get my master’s and Ph.D. in nursing and become a part of the Saudi Nurses Association back home,” said Alshaheen. “I wish to create a positive change.”

With so many students from her home country joining her, she’s helping to form a new club on campus next semester, called the Saudi Students Association.

“I will not feel, ‘Oh, I’m alone here, I cannot understand this because of my language or this barrier,'” said Alshaheen.

It still may be tough to be half a world away from her parents, but she reminds herself why she began this journey.

“I think this is the generation where Saudi people, especially women, step forward and improve the nursing career,” said Alshaheen.

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