Although the COVID-19 pandemic has made it challenging for all students to return to campus, one group in particular is dealing with more uncertainty — international students.
Amid travel restrictions and embassy closures, the UK International Center developed an innovative online program. Global Wildcats allowed 20 international students, who were slated to come to the University of Kentucky campus in Fall 2020, to begin their academic journey from their home countries.
Now, many of those students will finally make their way to the Commonwealth.
Among those students is Julia Mansur Cardoso, originally from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She traveled to Paraguay for her visa appointment before arriving in Lexington last weekend.
“I am so excited to explore Lexington and UK,” Mansur Cardoso said. “I can´t wait to surround myself with a great campus, great people and great classes. I expect to feel at home.”
Upon arriving, Mansur Cardoso was greeted by a fellow Brazilian UK student who is part of the international student ambassador team. The ambassadors will act as mentors for incoming students.
This is Mansur Cardoso’s first time living away from loved ones. However, she is confident she will find a second family at UK. “I’m sure that the environment and the support system that I’ve built over the fall semester will make it a lot easier.”
According to Sue Roberts, associate provost for internationalization at UK, Global Wildcats serves as a model of first-year student success in a fully online, remote learning environment — with participants having an average GPA of 3.57 and more than half of them named to the Dean’s List.
“All of the Global Wildcats remained highly engaged throughout the program, not only within their classes, but in student organizations and other co-curricular activities," Karen Slaymaker, assistant director for International Student and Scholar Services, said. “Additionally, all have enrolled for Spring 2021 — either online or in person.”
“All of the logistics and information I need for my arrival in Lexington are being taken care of and provided for me for my smooth transition into the UK community. We have so much help being offered to us by the International Center, which will make adapting so much easier,” Princess Magor Agbozo, a Global Wildcat from Ghana, added. “I've made friends that I’m excited to meet on campus.”
Just as excited for their arrival are faculty and staff members, as well as career and immigration advisors, who have been working with the students and supporting them every step of the way — across continents and time zones.
“It’s been great to connect with incoming students from different countries and welcome them as Wildcats. Taking courses online has been an outstanding way to help students get started at the university and continue moving forward,” Summer Eglinski, an academic advisor, said. “It makes all of us more excited for the day they set foot on campus, in person, and we can welcome them truly with open arms.”
To welcome Global Wildcat students, the International Village LLP will host an online event Friday, Jan. 29, which will allow them to connect with fellow students living in their residence hall. Additional programming will be offered throughout the spring semester.
You can find more information about the UK International Center online.