Norbesida Bagabila knows the value of having a true dream and achieving it despite setbacks.
A science student at Borough of Manhattan Community College, he moved from Burkina Faso, Africa, to the U.S., where he is studying to become a biomedical engineer. Before he moved here, his only option was to attend his country’s national university. He quickly realized that wasn’t where he wanted to be. The classrooms were overcrowded with other medical students, making it harder for him to see and talk to the professor on a daily basis. Because of this, Bagabila was uncertain if he was receiving the proper education to achieve his goal. For Bagabila, it was more about receiving the knowledge than getting a degree. He decided to look for better ways to get a higher education and was lucky enough to receive a student visa to come to the United States.
In doing so, Bagabila wants to look back knowing he was an inspiration to his people back home.
“I want to be a role model for my country,” he said. “I want to receive my Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. and then build a scientific university back at home.”
Though his community was against him leaving, Bagabila still left to pursue his dream.
“A dream is not a dream if you don’t achieve it. If we fail to achieve something, we are leaving that legacy behind, and we are telling that generation failure is acceptable. We are telling people that it’s impossible,” he said.
Bagabila knows if an individual says a dream is impossible to achieve, he or she is ruining it for the next generation and sending the message: “Since he gave up, it’s OK for me to give up too.”
Bagabila wants people to know they are the master of their goals and the owners of their dreams. No one should set others’ limits, he believes, and no one should try to make others follow a particular vision.
“I’m the master of my own goal. If someone else could do it, I can do it too. No one is superhuman,” Bagabila said.
And one never knows, he noted, a person might be an inspiration to others.
“If you go to a place where all doors of opportunities are closed, don’t be sad. Be happy, because you will be the person who opens the next door of opportunities for yourself and the generation behind you,” Bagabila said. “I see myself as someone who sees no path, but leaves a trail.”
Today, he is graduating with high honors and three scholarships.