Have you ever wondered where an international journey could take you? If you had the courage to enter the unknown, where could you end up, and which communities could become your new family? Hellen Silveira, originally from Brazil, knows the answer to these questions, thanks to her experience through a cultural exchange program and her time at Saint Paul College.

photo of Hellen Silveira speaking at a SPC podium
Group of students including Hellen Silveira on student life couch

Hellen’s journey began with a desire to explore the world, and her dream quickly turned into reality when she joined a cultural exchange program. Moving from Brazil to Carver, Minnesota, in 2017, Hellen had her first experience in the US serving as an Au pair for a family where she quickly became the big sister of a seven-year-old brother and nine-year-old sister. After a brief stint at home during the COVID pandemic, she returned to Minnesota, where her host family encouraged her to pursue her academic ambitions.

Their recommendation? Saint Paul College – an institution renowned for its supportive community, professional staff, and robust academic offerings, specifically in business. The match was perfect. Hellen enrolled, and her collegiate journey began.

photo of Hellen Silveira with host family

Hellen remembers feeling unsure of navigating the college landscape at first, but after a comprehensive one-week orientation as an international student, she felt prepared. She enjoyed the close-knit community, the helpful faculty, and the wide range of student clubs she could be part of. She was offered an opportunity as a work-study resource for the Career Services office, a role she cherished.

photo of international student coordinator, Katie Sivanich and Hellen Silveira in graduate attire

She was immensely grateful for the free application process and the prompt responses to her enrollment queries, making her first steps toward higher education seamless.

This spring, Hellen earned her AA and looks forward to pursuing a B.S. in International Management at Minnesota State Mankato. Her journey may continue, but she’ll always remember the Brazilian family that raised her, the Minnesota family that backed her dreams, and her Saint Paul College family that fueled her academic pursuits.