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Faces of CNM: Rajaa Murai

Rajaa’s journey from Syria to CNM was a difficult one, but CNM’s Global Education Office has helped her find a path to a bright future.
Faces of CNM: Rajaa Murai
Murai points to her homeland of Syria on a map in the Global Education office.

Jan 28, 2019

Rajaa Murai was born and raised in Syria, but was forced to move to Jordan with her family due to safety concerns after her uncle was murdered. She was able to complete her high school education in Jordan, but still yearned for a college education. When she learned about CNM’s Global Education program, her dreams to become a college graduate with high hopes for the future were revived.

After three years of living in Jordan and enduring hardships, Rajaa says she decided to move to the United States with her then fiancé who at the time was attending UNM. Upon arriving in Albuquerque, Rajaa says she spent seven months in limbo before learning in 2017 that CNM had received federal approval to start accepting international students. Rajaa jumped at the opportunity.

After being accepted to CNM, however, she still had an obstacle to overcome. As the spouse of an international student, Rajaa was only given an F2 student Visa, which meant she could not enroll as a full-time student or pursue a degree. With F2 status, Rajaa could take no more than six credit hours a semester and those hours would not go towards a degree-granting program.

“If I remained an F2, I could keep taking two classes a semester for 10 years and I would still never get a degree,” Rajaa said. “If I wanted to actually earn a degree, I needed to upgrade my status to F1.”

An F1 student Visa would allow Rajaa to become a full-time, degree-seeking student, but she needed help navigating the process. CNM’s Global Education office stepped up to help her. She said that the Global Education team took her, step-by-step, through the exhaustingly complex F1 student Visa application process, which took seven months to get approved.

“I tell my mom back home that I can ask anything I want to ask and CNM will explain everything,” she said.

Rajaa says she was surprised that an educational institution could care so much about helping their students succeed.

“Back home, I did not receive this treatment ever. The staff at the Global Education office double-checked all of my paperwork and made sure everything was good to go,” Rajaa said. “The colleges in Jordan would never do this. They would sometimes treat me very rudely.”

Murai will graduate from CNM with her associates degree in Communications.

After years of overcoming personal and educational hardships, Rajaa is now getting ready to graduate this spring from CNM with an associate degree in Communications. She plans to transfer to UNM’s Communication and Journalism School to get a bachelor’s degree.

“I just love communication in general. I want to build a career that I love. Eventually I would like to get a master’s in communications,” she said. “CNM has really given me the resources to succeed.”

Rajaa says that no matter what the future holds for her, she will never forget her experience at CNM and will always treasure the college and the state of New Mexico.

“After two years, I really feel a connection with Albuquerque, like I belong here,” she said, “I came back to life.”

CNM started the Global Education program at CNM in 2017 as part of CNM's Strategic Direction. CNM is committed to increasing the global competence of CNM students so they can compete, connect and collaborate on a global scale.