Saint Mary’s soccer player Mubarak Haruna shares his experiences moving to the U.S. from Nigeria, and being a part of the Saint Mary’s community as a transfer student athlete.
By Mark Molz
A lifelong resident of Nigeria, Mubarak Haruna is now a Gael striving towards his goals each and every day.
Haruna is a Junior forward for the Gaels soccer team, transfering from Merritt Community College in Oakland a few miles up the road from Saint Mary’s. During his two years at Merritt, Haruna was able to excel on the soccer field, which ultimately led him to one of the best programs in the country here at Saint Mary’s. In a total of 20 games for the Thunderbirds he was able to find the back of the net 12 times, while adding five assists to his resume. In his sophomore campaign, Haruna was named to First Team All-Conference.
Haruna graduated from Merritt with an AA in Mathematics and is now at Saint Mary’s continuing to study Mathematics along with a concentration in Computer Science. Haruna has only been in the States for a total of three years and since arriving a short time ago he said he has enjoyed the experience, and although he misses his home country he stated, “I am here for a purpose. To gather knowledge and help those in my community back home.”
Haruna chose Saint Mary’s because of the welcoming feeling the school generated from the start, the world class education, and great athletic programs. Among other choices such as Yale, UC Santa Barbara, Berkeley, and Irvine, to name a few, he was attracted to Saint Mary’s by the home and small feel environment of the school.
"SMC, unlike any other school in the world, provides a basis in many things,” Haruna said. “I see this university more than a citadel of higher learning but an institution where students can grow in all aspects of life, becoming individuals who want to make a real impact in their communities and enrich the lives of people in those communities and the world at large."
Haruna has very much enjoyed his time as a student athlete in his first year with the Gaels. Although soccer has been a lot more challenging moving from a Community College to a Division 1 he has loved the environment that Saint Mary’s has produced. Haruna has appreciated the work ethic of his teammates, the winning mentality the coaching staff possesses, and the willingness everyone around him has to help him reach his goals.
Although his first year as a Gael has been interrupted with COVID-19 he is thankful for the school and their precautions in order to keep everyone safe. The team has had to practice in pods and participate in non-contact training during the fall in order to ensure they would have a season, which already had been pushed back once to this Spring.
Along with being a Student-Athlete, Haruna is a member of the Black Student Union, Muslim Student Association, and is a student Advancement Ambassador here at Saint Mary’s. Haruna finds it extremely important to participate in organizations outside of his athletic focus. He has been able to build connections and interact with individuals outside of the team who share the same ideals and values he holds.
He enjoys being a member of the BSU and appreciates the thriving culture of the organization at Saint Mary’s.. He enjoys being a member of the Muslim Student Associaiton becasue it gives him the opportunity to interact with the small Muslim population on campus. And he is proud to be a student ambassador because it is a great experience that allows him to network and represent this amazing school to raise scholarship money for other students.
Although he has enjoyed his short time here, and has come more accustomed to the culture and diversity of the different places he has seen, he still misses his family, friends, food, and culture of his country. Being far away from home is a difficult task, especially given the time we are in, but Haruna knows it is all worth it in the end in order to raise another WCC trophy like the team has in the past.
Special thanks to Mubarak Haruna for his participation in this article. To learn more about Haruna and the Saint Mary’s mens’ soccer team follow the link below: