Graduation Celebration Speaker: Suleman Braimah

Suleman Braimah spent the past two years working to earn his master’s degree in Human Resources and Employment Relations through Penn State World Campus. Initially starting the program while living in Nigeria, he overcame considerable logistical challenges and juggled many work/family responsibilities to complete his studies.

On August 13, 2016, Suleman achieved his goal and graduated from Penn State. He was one of the student speakers at the Penn State World Campus Graduation Celebration.

Here are his remarks from the event:

My Penn State journey began in the fall of 2014, when I was granted admission to Penn State’s Master of Human Resources and Employment Relations program and the dream of earning an American degree became a reality.

Honestly I was one of those people who felt that getting my education online was an easy way to earn a degree — how wrong I was! Fast forward five semesters and 33 credits, and I can tell you this that this journey was harder than I expected. When I started the program, I lived in Lagos, Nigeria, and encountered many challenges — the time zone difference, logistics of getting my texts shipped to Nigeria every semester, and a study schedule of 16 to 18 hours weekly for course work. On top of all of these factors, I have a young family — my wife Aisha and sons Omari and Fareed — to care for, plus a full-time job as an operations manager.

Initially I was surprised by the amount of information I had to learn from my courses. At times I was overwhelmed and sleep deprived. When I took a job in Dallas, Texas, working long shifts and commuting 45 miles each way, devoting my usual 16 to 18 hours became difficult. According to my Fitbit, I slept for about 3 hours 20 minutes daily for the most part of the summer semester!

When I became ill early in the summer semester, I emailed my professors Jerry Carbo and Arthur Graziano for advice. Their responses helped me endure and continue to push through. They helped me to focus on my recovery before thinking about school work, and I feel grateful for their support.

I’ll tell you one thing for sure, earning my Penn State degree has enhanced my potential, and I feel there’s no limit to what I can do now. Based on the knowledge and coaching I received in my program, I was able to set up an HR Analytics unit and was one of the pilot students who took the graduate online teaching certificate course. I also currently volunteer as a mentor for Penn State’s Dairy Production and Management MOOC on Coursera.

I would like to thank many people who make Penn State what it is and pave the way for someone like me to have the privilege to be here. I want to thank the faculty, staff, and students for their immense support. Special thanks to Renate Klass, Jerry Carbo, Billie Willits, Ostrov Roberts, Taesung Kim, Jennifer Wilkes, Antone Aboud, and Tara Brooks. I am also grateful to Amy Dietz, now a friend and mentor; Erin Hetzel, Jessica Steele, and of course Ashley Demers.

It’s an honor to earn my Penn State degree and I will carry my Penn State pride with me in my community and hope that you will, too. Thank you!