Valerie Sinkam has done a lot of living since coming to the United States from Africa six years ago. She became a mother, served in the United States Army and enrolled in LSU of Alexandria's online Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science program.
"I started a medical laboratory science degree program that I didn't get to finish back in Cameroon," she said. "When I came to the United States, I joined the military. I was stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana, before I moved to Alexandria in February 2018. I was shopping around for schools in this area. I stumbled on LSUA, which had the exact program I was looking to do."
Sinkam is a single mother, veteran and full-time student. She earned an associate degree in Cameroon before coming to America and is on track to graduate with the BS in 2019. Sinkam is using GI Bill benefits to pay for her education.
"I won the green card lottery to get into the United States, and then gained my citizenship while serving," she said. "I loved to serve in the military It was a great opportunity. It was pretty rough in my unit, but I liked the experience. It gave me more knowledge about the U.S. and how to stay on my A game. It was very interesting to serve in the military. I enjoyed the diversity so much."
Sinkam grew up loving science, which piqued her interest in a career in medical laboratory science. She previously worked as a phlebotomy/medical lab technician at Bio Reference Laboratories in Washington, D.C.
"I was excited to work in America and see the labs and how they blend everything together," she said. "What I did in the military is quite different from what I'm doing right now as a career."
On Her Way
Sinkam is able to spend plenty of time with her son, Mark, thanks to the flexibility of the online format, which allows her to work on school any time or day of the week.
"The bachelor's degree program is very flexible online," she said. "It's nice to have that. I am taking a lot of seven weeks classes and spending a lot of time on the material. I spend approximately 20-25 hours a week on my schoolwork."
The foundation courses in the Medical Laboratory Science online program curriculum are especially appealing to Sinkam. She has earned an A in almost all of these courses. She also enjoyed the courses taught by Sona Kumar, including her favorite to date, MLSC 3040: Molecular Diagnostics, and others.
"I have been sharing information about the program since the day I got accepted into school," Sinkam said. "I have a couple of friends who are searching for schools where they can blend their knowledge from Africa. I explain to them how I got into the school through my international credentials. So far, I've been spreading the news."
Sinkam has had a couple of opportunities to visit family in Cameroon since she moved to the United States. Perhaps Sinkam's family can visit her in her second homeland and be there to watch her walk the stage on graduation day.
"A lot of my family members have college degrees," she said. "Education has always been a priority in my family. I went back home [to Cameroon] in March  and came back to the States in April. My family hasn't been here to visit me yet. It's just my son. However, they're excited for me to earn a bachelor's degree and further."
Sinkam, who enjoys reading at the library and taking walks, hopes to become a physician assistant and continue building her life in America with her son after she graduates from LSUA.
"That's what I am pushing for," she said. "The Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science is just the right degree to help me get there."Learn more about the LSUA online BS in Medical Laboratory Science program.
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