When Angela Asare decided to attend Winona State University, her father had another plane ticket already purchased, ready for her to return home early to Accra, Ghana.

Asare describes herself as someone who never strayed too far from her parents, so when she decided to follow in a cousin’s footsteps, her parents were skeptical.

But Asare said when she came to the WSU campus, home didn’t seem so far away anymore.

“Prior to coming here I was not very independent. I cannot believe I did stay for four years,” Asare said. “It was my first home away from ‘home,’ so it has taught me independence, a great deal of it.”

Asare will graduate from WSU this semester with a degree in cell and molecular biology and a minor in biochemistry.

While at WSU, Asare participated in the Pre-Med Club and the National Society for Collegiate Scholars. She also joined the International Club, which Asare said taught her all about the world of cultures studying at WSU and helped her grow closer with students who were also studying away from home.

Winona State was a good place to grow in a supportive environment, Asare said. It wasn’t always easy, but the Winona community made her feel welcomed and supported, especially when local families would invite her and her fellow international students to spend holiday dinners with them.

“It has given me sense of belongingness in this community and lunged me way out of my comfort zones,” Asare said.

After graduation, Asare plans to work for a year before applying to attend medical school or obtain her Ph.D.

After spending four years in her new home, Asare said she would encourage more students to go beyond their comfort zones and make the most of their experiences.

“Get involved more and take advantage of every opportunity, because it doesn’t take long for this wonderful experience to come to an end,” Asare said.

WSU Spring Commencement Ceremonies will be at 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Friday, May 5, in McCown Gymnasium. The 9 a.m. ceremony will feature the College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts. The 12:30 p.m. ceremony will feature the College of Business and the College of Science and Engineering. The 4 p.m. ceremony will feature the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. For more information visit http://www.winona.edu/graduation/commencement.asp or contact University Communications at 507-457-5024.