Meet OCC 2021 Grads: Irine-Valeria Neba

Irine-Valeria Neba“My biggest accomplishment was being able to transfer to Wayne State University and graduating from OCC. Looking back at all my grades, I never really faltered. I had some really hard teachers so to accomplish that meant a lot to me because there were so many hurdles, and I could have failed but I didn’t.”

- Irine-Valeria Neba

Major: Associate Degree in Arts
Student Involvement/honors: International School Club, Black Student Union, Phi Theta Kappa.

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: My ability to adapt throughout my entire life. Moving from Cameroon, a different country with a different culture, was a huge culture shock. I also moved from high school to high school. In Missouri there’s a different culture than Michigan, and I had to adapt. Then I had to adapt to college and COVID.

Q: What type of support did you receive from faculty over the past year?

A: Quincy Norwood knew the pandemic was hard on all of us. He was the light on all of us. He told us to keep working, and it’s going to be fine. He’s the person you can go to for help if you feel down or anything at all. He would tell us ‘I’m going through it too and if need help, ask for help.’ He would ask how we were doing mentally. He’s very caring.

Q: What type of support did you receive from the administration?

A: When I was in the Black Student Union, I created and hosted a presentation for voting. Dean Jahquan Hawkins and Dean Stacey Crews helped us out a lot. They also showed up at almost every single event. We did a family charity event and adopted a family and got gifts. Dean Hawkins contributed money so we could get laptops. He was not just supporting us morally, he actually was helping.

Q: What are the next steps for you after leaving OCC?

A: I would like to get a psychology internship to obtain hands-on experience or become a research assistant. After my bachelor's degree at Wayne State University, I want to apply for a master’s degree. My end goal is a PHD. When I have a PHD, I want to become a clinical psychologist so I can do research.

Q: If you had to pick one thing you’re taking away from your experiences over the past year, what would it be?

A: Be flexible and open minded to other people’s opinions, especially recently with the huge increase in Asian crime. I didn’t think it was that bad until I heard about the several shootings and killing of Asian women. I thought, oh my God, the same thing happens to us. It took me time to just soak it in, and that’s when I realized other people are going through just as hard things.

Q: From the lessons you learned in the past year, what advice would you give to future students?

A: Don’t be nervous. OCC faculty have been one of the nicest faculty I have ever met. Don’t be afraid to take risks. If you want to know something, ask. It’s going to feel overwhelming the first week or so. Take it step by step. There’s always someone to help. Most importantly, find a group you feel you belong to. It can be an organization, or a small group and stick to it.