University of Iowa

International student spotlight: Mishma Nixon

December 3rd, 2019
Mishma Nixon, international student at the University of Iowa

Mishma Nixon

Every year thousands of international students make the fearless decision to advance their education in the United States. With thousands of colleges to choose from, these students qualify for some of the most prestigious programs in the nation. As prospective scholars weed out their options, they soon begin looking for an institution that feels like home.

More than 3,100 international students and scholars currently call the University of Iowa home. Beyond their academic programs, the university has proven to be a welcoming, supportive, and integrated space for international applicants. And for a student like Mishma Nixon, current second-year Hawkeye student originally from Sri Lanka, that was all she could ask for.

Nixon’s dreams of coming to the United States sprouted inside the four walls of her high school in Sri Lanka. Where most of her peers were captivated by computers, delving in numbers and STEM-based courses, Nixon fell madly in love with literature and English. “I started a book blog in ninth grade which opened me up to the world of publishing, authors, and writers…,” Nixon said. But Nixon’s blog was only scratching the surface of a deep-rooted itch that could only be resolved with a college education.

In August 2018, Nixon received the blessing from her family to take her education to the next level and make her mark in America. “I’ve always been independent with my decisions because my family has trusted in my own intellect to create my own path,” Nixon said. Family has always been one of the driving forces in Nixon’s adventure for a more enriching education.

Nixon packed her bags and headed to the University of Iowa campus with ambitious dreams of connecting international students with domestic students.

“I told myself I’d either be that person that’s talking to everyone and always involved in everything, or I would be held up in my room all the time. There’s no in between,” Nixon said. With that mentality, Nixon began stacking her plate full of extracurricular activities that would supplement her unique international perspective.

Nixon is the cultural director for the Campus Activities Board (CAB), vice president of operations for the South Asian Student Alliance (SASA), the communications director for the International Student Advisory Board (ISAB), and an international ambassador with the Office of Admissions.

Nixon’s overarching role in these organizations does not go unnoticed. Her powerful global perspective has enhanced many of the glossed over events and conversations within the international community. One of Nixon’s greatest accomplishmets was restructuring The Taste of Asia event, an annual event hosted by CAB every spring. Embracing her Sri Lankan ethnicity, Nixon revolutionized the event, dividing each section of the Iowa Memorial Union (IMU) into different regions of Asia. Nixon refused to let any nationality go unseen. With upward of 900 attendees, Nixon received incessant praise for giving the event the recognition it deserved.

“I was able to show people that if you put effort into an authentically cultural event, people show up and enjoy it,” Nixon said.

As Nixon continues to relish in the opportunity she has been given to further her education in the United States, to her core, her intentions are to help enrich the lives of others. “I understand CAB is a privileged organization on campus so in part I decided to team up with smaller international organizations and make their presence bigger,” Nixon said. With limited funding for the smaller organizations, Nixon has literally spread the wealth of CAB across the international community. Her humble attitude and determined nature have paved the way for new initiatives picked up by these smaller student organizations.

In joining these various international organizations and programs, Nixon has felt more at home. “The current climate of our world has taught me it’s very important to make sure these [international] students are feeling welcomed,” Nixon said. Nixon expressed deep gratitude for the role International Programs (IP) plays in her life. She applauds IP for giving her and her peers a safe space for their academic and personal growth.

Nixon also attributes much of her success to Iowa’s academic structure, specifically in the creative writing and English departments. Nixon is majoring in English and creative writing with a certificate in social justice reform hoping to combine all her general interests. “Iowa and its professors have taught me my potential and that my voice can be heard,” Nixon said proudly.

What is next for Mishma Nixon? Not yet halfway done at Iowa, Nixon has room to flourish further. With dreams of heading to New York for her MFA, she is largely preparing for a future in publishing. Eventually, Nixon sees herself returning home, creating educational yet culturally conscious books for children. “One of the reasons I came here was because something was lacking [in the education system in Sri Lanka], and now it’s kind of my responsibility to do something about it,” Nixon said.

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