MIDDLETOWN – As the Lord Fairfax Community College class of 2019 prepares for graduation, one student is looking ahead to his next journey

Rostant Kengni, 36, emigrated from Cameroon, Africa, in 2015 to seek his dream of becoming a medical researcher.

Kengni began his educational journey long before coming to the United States when he received his master’s degree in biology while he was still in Cameroon.

“After my master’s degree, I wanted to continue my education,” he said. “I was really passionate about science, so I wanted to do science research.”

Kengni said he tried to apply to other schools in Cameroon, but certain laws in the country prohibited him from trying to attend other universities.

“When you get to a certain level, they tried to balance to make sure that people from each region are represented,” he said.

After failing to get into other schools in Cameroon and surrounding countries, Kengi began to look to the United States and Canada for education opportunities. He eventually was sponsored by his high school French teacher, who had lived in Winchester.

“I knew if I got into the United States, then I can really express myself,” he said. “This is where everyone around the world wants to go.”

When Kengi arrived in the U.S., he didn’t speak English.

“In my country, we’re divided into two halves, like Canada,” he said. “One-half spoke French and the other spoke English. I lived in the French half.”

Kengi decided to put his dream on hold until he learned English. While working in Winchester and improving his English, Kengi discovered LFCC during one of his English classes that he was taking in Winchester.

“One of the advisers who worked [at LFCC] came to one of our classes and she talked about LFCC,” he said. “I was thinking it was close. Maybe that was the place I needed to go.”

Kengi took the placement test that LFCC offered and was accepted into the school in late 2016.

“I didn’t know which classes to take, plus I didn’t know what to study,” he said. “I wasn’t ready.”

Once he had his classes, Kengi’s success and connecting with people at the college with the same interests as him gave him confidence to continue his education. Kengi will be transferring to West Virginia University this fall to study to become a pharmacist and to continue his medical research.

While he is looking ahead to studying at WVU, Kengi reflected on his time at LFCC.

“My favorite thing about LFCC, to be honest, is the friendly environment,” he said. “People want to help. It doesn’t matter if it’s a teacher, someone in the office, or someone in the library, they all want to help. They made me discover my talent, even when I didn’t believe in myself.”

LFCC will have about 1,200 students in the graduating class, including students who completed their studies last summer and fall.

The LFCC graduation ceremony starts at 1 p.m. Saturday at Skyline High School. The speaker is Oliva Henderson, a graduating student who attended the LFCC Fauquier campus.

– Contact Donald Lambert at dlambert@nvdaily.com