Photo by Carol Myint
Saint Paul College began its International Program in the fall of 2019, and it has rapidly grown as there are now 100 international students currently enrolled at the school! This growing program began with 26 international students in the first semester, just before the pandemic hit. International student refers to students on an F-1 visa and a small group on a J-1 visa.
This program has brought amazing talent to the school, as reflected in the average GPA of 3.41. In addition, they have greatly enhanced the cultural identity as other students can now learn from these learners without leaving the campus. The current enrollment of 100 international students represents 40 countries, including students from Myanmar (16), Nigeria (11), Colombia (8), Ethiopia (6), Thailand (4), and China (4). The most common majors include Associate of Arts (28), Computer Science (6), and Health Sciences (6).
With 100 international students, Saint Paul College has grown in just 2.5 years to numbers comparable to other local community colleges with programs that have been in place for several decades. This growth has happened despite the unique challenges facing international students, including:
- Covid-related challenges such as border & embassy closings and visa appointment delays;
- Global economic impacts causing increasing financial pressures; and
- Mental health challenges associated with being away from families during trying times.
Carol Myint, International Student Advisor, shared how much passion these students provide to our campus. International Students started Global Cultures Club, which remained very active during the pandemic with virtual presentations highlighting their home countries. Three of the four Student Senate positions are currently International students. And many of our on-campus jobs are filled with these students as they are typically not allowed to work off-campus based on visa restrictions.
Embracing diversity and learning from other cultures is at the heart of Saint Paul College. We are fortunate to learn from so many international students, both inside and outside the classroom.