There are a lot of discussions about life, the meaning of our place here, and how we can contribute to a sense of shared community. I feel like it’s a very comfortable setting.
Oma, Class of 2023
Oma ’23 comes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and has been at Northfield Mount Hermon since 9th grade, following in the footsteps of her brother, Olisa ’20.
Since starting at NMH, Oma says, she’s experienced “a lot of firsts” — her first snowfall, new activities like serving as an editor on the school arts magazine, Mandala, even trying rowing for the first time. “There’s a lot of opportunity to try things you never have before, take courses you never have, explore your interests,” she says. “There’s a lot of flexibility.”
Despite being so far from home, Oma has found her place at NMH. “A big part of it is the people. It was a big adjustment being a minority, but at NMH, the divide isn’t really evident.”
Joining campus groups like the Black Student Union and the Circle of Sisters, an affinity group for girls of color, helped her make that adjustment. “I feel like having groups where minorities can feel supported has been important,” she says. “Most of my friends are international students. It was easier to connect with people who were coming from far away, just like me. I also had really supportive Resident Leaders, and that’s a big part of why I became one junior year.”
Like many students at NMH, Oma’s list of activities is long. In 10th grade, she served as a Peer Educator, helping keep other students informed about health and wellness issues. Oma also joined the Academic Honor Board and was a student representative to the interview committee for the hiring of new faculty members. In the non-academic realm, she sings in two a cappella groups, the Nellies and Northfield Mount Harmony.
At first, Oma says, it was a challenging transition from her Nigerian school to NMH classes, where writing and discussion are a major part of the curriculum. But, she says, there’s been plenty of upside: “There are a lot of discussions about life, the meaning of our place here, and how we can contribute to a sense of shared community. I feel like it’s a very comfortable setting, and I can share my ideas without getting criticized – unless I say something that's really questionable!”
And she’s clearly adapted to NMH classes well, recently being named to the national Cum Laude Society.
For Oma, there’s a scenario that’s emblematic of NMH life: “I think about dinner, sitting with a large group of friends around the table — just talking, having fun, chatting. The schoolwork is challenging, and we can get caught up in that. But it's nice to just go to dinner and relax, to hear the chatter of everybody with their groups of friends, existing in the same community without worrying.”
While NMH is far from her home in Nigeria, Oma found that the school’s welcoming atmosphere and opportunities for connection helped ease the adjustment.