Saint Mary's Sees Big Jump in International Students
If you feel like Saint Mary’s has a little more international flair this year, you’re right. The College begins a new academic year with double the amount of international students from a year ago – representing no less than 10 countries.
The Class of 2016 boasts 23 international students – up from 11 last year. The number of students from U.S. territories has also grown significantly, quadrupling from three to 12.
Susie Miller Reid, the director of the Center for International Programs, which works with the students once they arrive, says the upward trend is “exciting.”
This year’s enrollment spike can be attributed to continued efforts around the College.
“International recruitment is, and has been, a priority for the College,” says Dean of Admissions Michael McKeon. “The change in enrollment is likely related to greater responsiveness in communicating with both prospects and applicants in the admissions process.”
The past year also saw the hiring of Associate Director of Admissions Rolando Crisostomo, who oversees international recruitment. He is currently on tour with SMC Scholarship Counselor Brother Brendan Madden in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand.
With an increase in outreach, the reputation of Saint Mary’s is drawing new students from all around the globe.
Kimberly Huang, an accounting major from Taiwan, chose Saint Mary’s after her counselor’s husband, a graduate of the College, told her time and time again about his experience. “He has a lot of pride in Saint Mary's and through his tone, I could tell that it is a great school. He told me to live it up and that Saint Mary's is full of opportunities.”
A native of Warsaw, Poland, Anh Maciag had never heard about Saint Mary’s until his friends in Oakland brought it up in conversation. “They told me that Saint Mary's is a good school with a lot of tools and opportunities which will help me to accomplish my life goals.”
Welcomed With Open Arms
More foreign students mean more responsibilities. Enter Tim Yoon, the new international student coordinator. Once an international student from Seoul, South Korea, Yoon was proud to use his past experience to help influence the newest Gaels by directing the International Student Orientation.
“Our orientation is extensive,” says Yoon. “Usually at other schools, orientation lasts about a day or two. Ours is five days.“
The session, open to both international students and those born in U.S. territories, gave students the chance to learn how to use local public transportation, discover local restaurants and get comfortable with their new campus and support staff.
“I got to know the College, the surrounding environments,” says Maciag, a business administration major. “I got to know the other international students that shared the experience. It was really cool.”
Alex Hunt, one of the newest members of the men’s tennis team, says that after the orientation he knows “a lot more about the country and the places around me, which helped immensely.” Transitioning from New Zealand has gone smoothly, too, he said, adding: “The only thing is that some people can't understand my beautiful harmony of a Kiwi accent.”
A Real U.S. College Experience
As their program grows, Yoon and Miller Reid hope all the international students use their four years here to grow and appreciate the close connections they will have the chance to make.
“Saint Mary’s offers such a unique experience; it shows true American culture,” says Miller Reid.
“I want the students to find out what they are passionate about, what they’re interested in,” added Yoon. “I just want them to enjoy a United States college experience – go to a ball game, paint their faces. It’s one of the best times of your life.”
Saint Mary’s is already making an impression on the new international students.
“This is only the third week and I know a lot of people,” says Huang, “but I feel like in four years we will be a family.”
Dan Murphy '13
Photos by Tim Yoon