We sat down with Dilara Darbuga, who is completing her dual-degree at AHU in nursing and radiography. She may be a familiar face to you as Dilara is active in campus ministries and even serves as the AHU housing chaplain. She's also Muslim and graciously spoke with us about her experience in coming to a college built upon a different faith system. We love meeting people like Dilara who represent the diversity and openness of our campus culture, and live as proof of why our mission is one that can inspire anyone who believes in the healing values of spirituality and uncommon compassion.
Name: Dilara Darbuga Nickname: Sometimes "Dee" Program: Dual-degree - Nursing / Radiography Hometown: St. Augustine, Florida Favorite thing to order from NESS Café: Quesadilla
How did you learn about AHU?
My cousin graduated from AHU’s first [Physician’s Assistant] program in 2015. I want to be a PA. We did look for a few schools before we ended up here, but I’m not a huge fan of very big schools so the small classes and one-on-one [interactions] is the reason why I ended up here.
Is your next step to apply to AHU’s PA program after completing your dual-degree?
Yes, this school is my priority right now.
Why did you choose to do a dual-degree?
I need patient contact hours for the PA schools so I’m doing radiography to earn my hours and the bachelor’s is the stepping stone to PA school.
My dad was a radiography tech, so it was something I’m interested in anyway. So, it was in my interest as well as I want to graduate at the same time and earn my patient contact hours. It would all be in the same time frame.
Wow. You must have a lot on your plate then.
I do. *laughs* I’m enjoying it. I do like being busy.
You were already familiar with AHU. But visiting here for the first time, was there something you didn’t expect or that surprised you?
Being Muslim and coming to a different faith-based university, it is a little intimidating. But once I got here, even when I was talking to the enrollment counselors, they were just so sweet and loving and welcoming. It did really feel so homey and when I became a student, it felt like [a] community. Especially campus ministries. I’m part of campus ministries and they’re just like a family. A cute little perfect family.
What activities do you participate in as part of Campus Ministries?
I am the housing chaplain. I live in housing, so I help out with events [there]. We do rounds for housing students. We bring them treats and pray with them, talk to them about their issues, and do praises and everything like that. I help with Friday night Vespers or any big Campus Ministry event when all hands are on deck.
As a Muslim, what has your experience been like here?
I feel like people met me before they knew I was Muslim, and we built relationships and friendships. And eventually, through different conversations, people find out that you’re Muslim, but I don’t think there was ever a moment where they were like, “Oh. You’re Muslim”. It was more like, “Oh, that’s awesome – tell me more about it.”
I love God…and I love worshipping, but I was kind of hesitant to join Campus Ministries because of being Muslim. But Quran and the Bible are very parallel, so we believe in the same God and we tell everyone that…all the time. When I was talking to the chaplains, Reynold [Acosta] told me “if you say we believe in the same God, then you should do what you believe” and that’s how I joined Campus Ministries. I think more people of different faiths started coming into Andersen House. Some of my friends were like, “Oh, you’re Muslim and you’re in Campus Ministries?” They showed interest in coming to more events. That’s how you build a community. That was awesome.
I feel like AHU is not a community where anyone feels excluded.
Exactly. They are loving no matter what.
How do you think your experiences here will affect your future and going on to becoming a PA?
Especially in bigger schools where people don’t get to meet each other, this is the exact opposite. We’re a smaller school and everyone knows each other, and everyone knows about each other. It’s not just “I know your name”, it’s “I know your story” too. You build relationships and you learn to love people and care for them. Healthcare is all about caring for people. We’re [taught] to care for people in this school and that’s a huge aspect of healthcare.
Do you have anyone on campus you consider a mentor or professors who have impacted you?
I have a lot, oh my gosh. Ndala Booker…she is amazing. Me and my friends look up to her so much. Of course, the chaplains. Betty [Varghese] as a counselor – she’s helped me through so much. Miss Edwin for Chemistry was awesome and Dr. Saliba for Philosophy of Healthcare. I loved her. She is one I will remember always. It’s an easier class, so they make it more fun. In the midst of all the craziness, I feel like you can have fun in it.
Thank you for being a great part of our campus community, Dilara! We know you're set to accomplish big dreams.