BELLINGHAM - If anyone knows that the joy of life is in the journey, not the destination, it's Mahfuza Sobitova.
After nine years of school spanning two countries and two states - her home country of Tajikistan and the U.S., and Minnesota and Washington - the Western Washington University senior is graduating. Though she's thrilled to be getting her degree in general science-secondary education, she doesn't think the Saturday, June 15, ceremony is going to hold a candle to her experience in school.
"I'm more excited about the process than the end," she said. "Every single quarter was exciting to me."
Sobitova began college in her home country at Khujand State University before being accepted into the IREX Global Undergraduate Exchange Program, which placed her at Bemidji State University in Minnesota.
She studied there for one year before going back to Tajikistan, where she went to school and volunteered for a year and a half. While she was home, she met the man who would become her husband, an Edmonds resident teaching English at a local program. It was because of him that she was able to return to America to finish her studies at WWU.
"That was the only thing I wanted my whole life: to get a good education at a good school," the 26-year-old said.
Though she won't miss the long hours of studying, she will miss her teachers, especially Don Burgess, the science, math and technology education teacher who served as her supervisor.
"He would come see me teach and give me little hints that would change my whole class, my whole teaching," said Sobitova, who did her student teaching at Blaine High School.
She'll also miss her work at the university's tutoring center.
"That place took me out from my studying and put me among students so I could teach them and learn from them," she said. "I learned from them a lot."
She'll take those lessons with her on the next steps on her journey. Sobitova will go back to Tajikistan for six months; she hopes to teach and volunteer during her stay. After that, she plans to return to Western Washington and apply for jobs as a teacher. Her hope is to teach chemistry, a subject she has loved since she first discovered it in eighth grade, at the high school level.
"I'm excited about my relationships with students," she said. "It's just a nice feeling to have them sharing their life with you and helping them and seeing them grow."
WWU GRADUATION CEREMONIES
All three ceremonies are in Carver Gymnasium on Saturday, June 15. Tickets are required for seating in the gym, but there will be overflow seating in the Science, Mathematics and Technology Education building with the ceremonies broadcast on a screen. They also will be broadcast live on Comcast channel 26 and streamed live on ustream.tv/channel/wwu-live-events1.
9 a.m. College of Business and Economics, College of Fine and Performing Arts, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies and Huxley College of the Environment.
12:30 p.m. College of Humanities and Social Sciences (Humanities Division) and Woodring College of Education.
4 p.m. College of Humanities and Social Sciences (Social Sciences Division) and the College of Sciences and Technology.