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Josephine’s Determined Pursuit of a Ph.D. in Healthcare

Josephine is deeply engaged in her rigorous study program. Her words emanate a sense of positivity, reflecting her joyful, amicable, and endearing outlook on life in Finland. 

As she starts, “I like to speak from my heart, let’s go for it..”

I’m originally from Cameroon, but I’m a US citizen. I have lived most of my life in the US Cameroon has both English and French as its official languages. I come from the English-speaking part of Cameroon but speak French too.

Josephine Atanga by Juha Roisko f
Photo by Juha Roisko Photography


Exploring the Academic Journey Toward a University Nursing Degree


I came to Finland a couple of years ago. I came as a visitor and then ended up studying in Finland.  I was a practical nurse in the US, and I have a degree in English language from Cameroon. When I came to Finland, someone told me the University of Applied Science offered a Nursing degree course.  I went to check it and immediately fell in love with the university. I applied for it because I said this is my school. I went back to the US for a while. 


Later, I came back to Finland; I passed the exam. Then there was the interview; they told me what happens if we don’t take you. I said, look at me very well; I am an asset. Arcada University needs me, and I also need Arcada University; there is no way you won’t take me to this course. I returned to the US, and then the results came, and I was taken.


In Finland, we always work in groups and strengthen each other in the team and group; strong relationships are important here. You have to work with your team, which is different from the US. There’s much research here, too, but we do more detailed studies in the US and go deeper. However, the quality of schools in Finland is high and very good for sure. 


Entering Master’s Studies


I finished the nursing program. I worked for almost two years, then planned to start a new master’s degree in Arcada for nursing. I applied for it. They said, sorry, we can not take you for this program because you sent the information late. I said no, you have made a mistake, and I never sent information late. Please check my email; everybody could make a mistake. I am confident that I checked the deadlines and did everything on time. I was sure that I was right. The Results arrived, and I was taken for the course. ‘’Congratulations!’’ I shouted to myself; I was so happy. I applied for the master’s study, and then I applied for the PhD study, which is in Ireland. It was a full-time course, and it was online because, during the Covid, it was possible to do studies online. I was accepted and was taken for the courses. 


Dealing with Challenges in Studying and Living in Finland


Around that time, all my studies were online. I didn’t need to move to Ireland or be in Ireland. I was determined; I loved this challenge, and although it was hard, I thought I wanted to do it. I went to Ireland to see the program director and made an appointment. I found it interesting, and I was very focused. It was super challenging, and doing it took lots of stress.  I graduated in 2022 with a master’s degree in MSN-Leadership in Nordic Health Care. Currently in the 4th year of my Ph.D. research.


And exercise helped me a lot on this issue. I exercise daily in the fresh air outdoors in Finland. Exercise is very important, and it is very good to do it outdoors, especially in Finland, with its beautiful nature and green environment. I call it exercise green. I never do exercise indoors. Forest and clean air in Finland is what I’m grateful for. I said to myself that I’m not giving up on this. I finished my master’s and am still in my PhD program. I was focused, passionate, and determined. 


One thing that helped me in Finland is that I’m a community person. I like being with people. Back in the US, I was a producer, and my program was on US TV. I was also working with young girls, working with their talents and teaching them. I brought this community work to Finland from the US. So, our previous experiences also matter and help us grow in the new place, the new country where our new home is.


Good friends are important. Therefore, surround yourself with good people. I also have a positive mindset, and I look at challenges as opportunities to do better. To see where I went wrong, challenges are not there to kill me, but they help me do better. Every vision must be tested. Without vision, you perish, and every vision must be tested. I don’t drop, I don’t give up. 


Giving back to the Finnish Community


I was a practical nurse in the US, but Finland allowed me to be a registered nurse with a Master’s degree.  I am so grateful. We need to appreciate the Finnish system and not complain all the time. Of course, there are challenges in each country, but appreciation and gratitude are so powerful that they help people have a better life. There is a positive integration if we show appreciation for whatever good is done here. For example, the health care system and education are free here. 


Therefore, I initiated  ‘Kiitos Suomi’ for foreigners to say ‘thanks’ to Finland. I am the founder of this organization.  Thank you, Finland- Kiitos Suomi is all about appreciation. Appreciate the beautiful country of Finland that has opened its doors to welcome everyone. It is also about the Finns expressing gratitude to Finland. Finland has lonely people. It is very important to network with the right people, and also, when you network, you give back to the community you support the community.


We recently organized an event at Kustaankartano Senior Center to express gratitude to retirees and veterans for their sacrifices, particularly for paving the way for foreigners in Finland. Engaging with the local Finnish community is a vital aspect of integration, as they can provide valuable insights for navigating the country effectively, contributing to an improved quality of life. Additionally, connecting with fellow compatriots is significant. Furthermore, emphasizing the importance of work as a fundamental virtue completes the holistic approach to living in and contributing to Finnish society.


I want to shock you. To command appreciation, one must embrace the ethos of excellence, aspiring to be extraordinary in every endeavor. By cultivating the spirit of excellence, true appreciation becomes inevitable.


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