GRIT AND COURAGE: triumph over tribulation for MUN graduate from Bangladesh

Jannatul Alam was 11,000 kilometers from her home when her father died.

“When I lost my father, that was the most shocking event for me,” she says.

Jahangir Alam died of a heart attack in the fall of 2018, a month and a half after his daughter left Dhaka, Bangladesh to attend St. John’s Memorial University.

Her lifelong goal was to study abroad, meet new people and explore unknown places.

Losing her father – especially as she adjusted to school in a new country, so far from her family – was a tragic setback.

Coping was a challenge.

Some suggested she take the semester and go home to be with her family.

But despite her grief, Jannatul chose not to delay her studies or give up on her dream.

“I wanted to stick with it, no matter what,” she says.

With the help of friends, teachers and other supporters at Memorial, she held on.

“Even though it was difficult, I finished all my classes, thanks to my teachers and friends who helped me at that time,” she says.

“I learned to live with it.”

Jannatul Alam, from Dhaka, Bangladesh, decided to stick with her studies so that she could graduate from Memorial University of Newfoundland despite several setbacks on her way to graduation.  - Contributed
Jannatul Alam, from Dhaka, Bangladesh, decided to stick with her studies so that she could graduate from Memorial University of Newfoundland despite several setbacks on her way to graduation. – Contributed

But his story of triumph over the tribulation does not end there, unfortunately.

Imagine yourself still coming to terms with the loss of a parent in a new country, thousands of miles from home, and then being hit by a car.

In December 2019, just days before the start of the January 2020 semester, Jannatul was hit by a vehicle while crossing a road in the busy Ropewalk Lane area of ​​St. John’s.

Doctors said it was lucky she survived.

Incredibly, the only serious physical damage was the loss of a few teeth.

“It was the only thing, but luckily it’s salvageable,” she says.

Again, people advised him to take a semester off and go back to Bangladesh for a while.

But as the song says, Jannatul was knocked down but she got back up.

She didn’t want any of this home business. His goal has remained steadfastly the same: to not miss any school and to graduate on schedule.

“I wanted to stick with it no matter what,” she says.

Once again, various supporters at Memorial—friends, teachers, the Internationalization Office, the Office of Student Life, and the School Counseling Center—offered support in getting Jannatul back on its feet.

“Everyone has helped me a lot to continue with my classes and deal with this mental stress that has gone through both periods (of difficulty),” she says. “Finally, I succeeded.

“Right now, when I look back, it’s like, I’m happy and I’m grateful that they didn’t abandon me back then. They were there, right?

- Contributed
– Contributed

“It was all done in one day”

In October, nearly two years after the accident, Jannatul heard his name called and walked through the convocation stage to receive his business degree.

It’s a 50-foot walk across the stage from the St. John’s Center for the Arts and Culture, a brief jaunt considering Jannatul’s long and bumpy journey to get there.

It was as if all the dedication and perseverance had paid off, she said.

“Everything was done in one day.”

She says her father would have been delighted with what she had accomplished.

“He was already so proud. And if he had seen me, and graduated and everything, he would have been so proud.

Jannatul started a new job with KPMG in St. John’s after graduating.

Graduating and learning from life experiences will undoubtedly set her up for success.

Her big lesson from the setbacks she faced: Unexpected events beyond your control are inevitable, but you can decide how you feel about what happens.

“So I learned that we have to stay strong and have the mentality to face what is coming,” says Jannatul, “so that when it happens, we don’t get anxious or lose hope. . .

“Always have hope, no matter what, that things will get better as they go, because those who can stay, no matter what, are the ones who win and have the advantage.”


Steve Bartlett is Senior Editor at SaltWire Network. Named after a 2008 book he wrote, “Grit and Courage” is the name of his new column and podcast focused on people who have overcome adversity. Email him at [email protected].

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