by Joan Mukhwana
Mount Mary University is actively recruiting international students in order to increase enrollment to 60 international students by 2020, according to Virgilio Rodriguez, assistant director of admissions.
Currently, 21 international students from 15 countries attend Mount Mary, according to Jill Meyer, director of institutional research. They are either immigrants who are residents of the United States or F-1 visa students who have a temporary residence status as students. Mount Mary hopes to increase the enrollment of the latter group.
“Of these students, 71 percent are undergraduates with the remaining 29 percent graduate students,” Meyer said.
Rodriquez said that to meet this goal, Mount Mary plans to develop an international referral network. “This entails identifying and developing many relationships locally and abroad,” he said.
This partnership will include the School Sisters of Notre Dame (who have a worldwide network), the Association of Global Universities, and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, Rodriquez said. Mount Mary faculty who lead study abroad groups, alumnae and current students will also participate.
According to Antje Streckel, associate director of admissions, recruitment of international students was minimal.
“Mount Mary just welcomed those who came to the university,” Streckel said. “Now, there is an initiative to actively recruit international students.”
According to Rodriguez, Mount Mary will target China, India and Brazil because these countries have been recommended by the World Education Services as emerging markets for international student recruitment. Some of these countries grant scholarships to the best students for study abroad at the world’s top universities.
One example of such a program is the Brazilian government’s Brazil Scientific Mobility Program for undergraduates who will study science, technology, engineering or math (STEM fields) at colleges and universities in the United States for one academic year. Students then return to Brazil to complete their degrees.
In August, Rodriguez visited five cities in Brazil to recruit for Mount Mary. He was part of KIC Univ Assist, an organization that provides student recruitment tours for universities and colleges in the United States. They held college fairs and met students from local high schools.
“Many young people I talked to in Brazil were attracted to Mount Mary because of the diversity here,” Rodriguez said.
Angela Ezugwu, 2014 Mount Mary graduate in theology and psychology, returned to work in Nigeria after completing her studies. Ezugwu now teaches religion at Notre Dame Girls Secondary School, a rural secondary school with a population of 300 girls located in Benue State, Nigeria.
Ezugwu was an F-1 visa international student from Nigeria. Ezugwu said that her time at Mount Mary enriched her worldview and prepared her for a teaching career.
“I would strongly recommend Mount Mary,” Ezugwu said. “My experience was a positive one.”
Naureen Fatima is a freshman international student, studying health communications. She said Mount Mary’s smaller classes make it easy for an international student to feel part of the community.
“You will not feel the culture shock as there are students here from all parts of the world,” Fatima said. “I am an immigrant, so I know how it feels to be in a new place.”
Rodriguez said the presence of international students in the classroom and on campus expands diversity and the number of different perspectives represented on the campus.
“Many companies are becoming more global and are interested in global thinkers,” Rodriguez said.
Streckel believes the move to internationalize the student body is tied to Mount Mary’s mission to educate women who are strong leaders in society and who will become agents of change.
“We are educating young women from diverse corners of the world who will return and invest in their own home communities,” Streckel said.