Nursing student dreams of decreasing infant and maternal mortality rates Parwana Noori, Kansas

Nursing student dreams of decreasing infant and maternal mortality rates


Online learning tools help Afghan student advance toward her goal of helping her country

Parwana Noori (pictured above on the far right with her sisters and their children) was born in Afghanistan, a country where the adolescent literacy rate for females is only 32 percent1 and girls do not always have the opportunity to attend school. “In the rural areas, girls are very unprivileged in education, but the more you move towards the city, the better it gets. I grew up in the city of Kabul, and there were still a lot of barriers to my and my sisters’ education,” Parwana explained.

Although she could not read or write herself, Parwana’s mother was determined that her children would receive an education. Parwana recalled her mother saying, “I didn’t have the chance to get an education and I will do everything I can to make sure you have that opportunity.” Her wish came true when Parwana and her siblings graduated from high school and college. Parwana earned a K–12 teaching certificate from the University of Kabul.

While working first as a volunteer and then as a teaching and administrative assistant at the International School of Kabul, a US-accredited K–12 school, Parwana made friends with some coworkers who encouraged her to apply to schools in the United States to advance her education. With their help, Parwana applied to Johnson County Community College (JCCC) in Kansas, leaving Afghanistan in 2010 to attend the college.

Parwana’s goal is to get a degree in nursing and continue her education to the graduate level so that she can return to her country, or other countries similar to hers, and work as an OBGYN nurse practitioner and/or certified nurse midwife. In 2013, there were seventy infant deaths for every thousand live births and four hundred maternal deaths for every hundred thousand live births in Afghanistan.2 These mortality rates are almost double the average rates for the world. “My desire is to go back to Afghanistan and really invest in women’s and children’s lives because the infant mortality rate and pregnant women’s mortality rate are so high there,” Parwana explained.

Adjusting to college in the United States was a challenge for Parwana, not only because of the language barrier but also because US colleges are more focused on career readiness than Afghan schools are. “In Afghanistan, the emphasis is on just pure memorization. There’s no application. Whereas in the United States, everything that we learn applies to our lives, to our careers. So there are real-life examples. And the knowledge that you gain is applicable to what you are going to do,” Parwana explained.

Although Parwana took traditional face-to-face classes at JCCC, she used Pearson’s online learning tools MyMathLab and MasteringBiology to help her improve her vocabulary and master content. As an English learner, she found that the animations helped her visualize concepts. “I loved the animations because I was able to picture the material in my mind like a movie. It was a great way to unpack the most difficult biological concepts. And when I went to take a test, I remembered seeing the material just like a movie and how it all worked.”

Pearson’s MyMathLab and MasteringBiology help students bring some of the most challenging concepts to life, which reduces study time as well as anxiety and stress. I strongly recommend them to all students, but especially to non-native speakers like myself.

Parwana also liked the section quizzes in the online learning programs, which helped her study for tests. “I loved taking those quizzes because if I got an 80 percent or above, I would know the information very well and would do well on the test. It was like an indicator of how well I would perform on my actual test.”

After two years at JCCC, Parwana transferred to the nursing program at the University of Kansas Medical Center and is on track to graduate in 2016. She plans to attend graduate school and then work in the United States for a few years to gain experience before returning to Afghanistan. “Afghanistan desperately needs the younger generation’s help, and I am excited to finish my education and go back to make a difference in women’s and children’s lives,” she explained.

When asked what she would tell other immigrants who are considering attending a US college, Parwana replied, “It’s not an easy journey to begin, but hard work and right resources, like Pearson’s online learning tools, can help you succeed. You also need to be flexible and learn how to adapt to different ways of thinking, lifestyles, and different ways of interacting with people when it comes to learning. It’s a great opportunity with amazing rewards and I’m so thankful for my education.”

1. The 2015 State of the World’s Children Report, statistical tables by country, UNICEF

2. Ibid.


Engage students with immersive content, tools, and experiences
MyLab & Mastering

MyLab & Mastering is the world’s leading collection of online homework, tutorial, and assessment products designed with a single purpose in mind: to improve the results of all higher education students, one student at a time.
Learn more about MyLab & Mastering


Online math courses that ensure student success
MyMathLab® for School

MyMathLab for School is a series of online courses that offer students personalized instruction and practice and teachers the tools they need to deliver their courses online. MyMathLab for school ensures students are successful in their math course and adequately prepared for college, career, and life.
Learn more about MyMathLab for School