Ghefua Yembu is an ambitious, smart and determined pharmacy student at Xavier University of Louisiana. Born in Cameroon, Africa, she is one of five children raised by her mother, a school teacher, and father, a military official, Growing up in a third world country with limited resources and opportunities, she understands the importance of education. Her vision for change and her message of peace inspires those around her. Today, she celebrates International Day of Education because everyone, no matter where they are from, should have the right to learn.
January 24, 2020
Who are you?
I’m Ghefua Yembu and I’ve always wanted to be a pharmacist!
Where are you from?
I’m from Cameroon, Africa.
What was it like growing up there?
The children have a lot of fun back home and everything is so exciting. We were never inside watching TV. We were always playing outside together.
What do you think influenced your career path?
Growing up in a developing country means you don’t have a lot of resources. When I was younger, I saw people die from what I knew were preventable causes. I had a friend who was very young when she choked on a grain of rice. She died because no one knew how to help her. Even recently, one of my friends died because when he was taken to the hospital no one there knew how to perform CPR and there was no CPR machine in the hospital. I thought about all the people who died after being prescribed the wrong medications or the wrong doses. Those things make me so frustrated because I know if we had the proper resources many people could live. I knew I had to do something about it.
Why Xavier University of Louisiana?
My first destination when I arrived in the United States was California. It was beautiful there. I enjoyed the weather and the people were nice. I was looking into pharmacy schools there when one of my friends mentioned that Xavier had an amazing program that a few of her friends had completed.
The first thing I did was get on the website and it really got my attention. I loved learning about all the programs and I really loved the fact that the graduates looked like me! I couldn’t believe it-- doctors and professionals who look just like me! I was in shock. I knew I was coming to New Orleans.
What happened once you arrived on campus?
The first time I came to Xavier was to ask questions about the pharmacy program. I read amazing things online but I wanted to hear from the people. The first thing I noticed was how friendly everyone was. Everyone kept speaking to me, complimenting me and they all really wanted to help. California was nice but the people here are so different. The Xavier community is one big family.
Traveling abroad is almost like being in two worlds at once. Was leaving your home country to be in Louisiana a scary decision to make?
Yes, but I knew I had to come to the west if i wanted to change the world. I am so happy to be here. Both of my brothers moved away from home so I knew I could do it and my parents always encouraged me.
Do you feel that you have a strong support system at Xavier University of Louisiana?
Since my first day on campus, I have had a very strong connection with Ms. Priscilla, my admissions counselor. I adopted her as my “school mom” the moment I met her. I knew she was going to take care of me. I feel so safe with her and I can talk to her about anything-- she’s always checking in. I have a lot of new friends too.
What does education mean to you?
Education means everything to me. Knowledge is freedom and power. Today, I celebrate the International Day of Education because I believe everyone has the right to learn. It’s not fair that people in third world countries suffer because they don’t have the proper resources.
What are your goals for the future?
Since I’m a freshman, I am trying to get more involved on campus. I just became a campus math tutor and I will be paid so it’s really exciting. I’m really good at math.
What advice can you give other international students undergoing the college experience abroad?
Take the chance! It’s a scary decision to make but you won’t regret it. I love being in two worlds. I love being exposed to different cultures and this experience is life-changing. Plus I think variety is always exciting.
Xavier University of Louisiana now offers a master’s degree option in public health, successfully making the University the first HBCU in the state to offer the program. Of the 500 plus students who graduated during Xavier’s spring 2020 commencement, eight graduates received master’s degrees in public health. The inaugural cohort of graduates matriculated into the program in the Fall of 2018.Academics