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Myth: International Students Can’t Get Scholarships.

Fact: Yes they can!


by Nanfei Liu

 
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SUMMARY: Applying for college is no small feat, imagine doing so from another country while navigating a pandemic. The Center for Global Engagement at JMU is committed to the transformative power of global education. Scholarships create an opportunity for students like Samaris Jose Aranguren Estrada ('24) to pursue her dreams and enrich JMU’s learning environment with her cultural perspectives.


Beginning one’s college career online is hard but facing a snow-filled winter is just as challenging to an international student, Samaris Jose Aranguren Estrada (’24). She is a biology major who was inspired by her mother to pursue a career path of saving lives. Samaris arrived on JMU’s campus in Fall 2021 but she started classes online while back home in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.

We have all had to navigate many obstacles since March of 2020 but for students, it has been particularly hard. Applying for college is no small feat, imagine doing so from another country while navigating a pandemic. The Center for Global Engagement at JMU is committed to the transformative power of global education. Scholarships create an opportunity for international students to study abroad and enrich JMU’s learning environment with various cultural perspectives.2.png

1) Why did you choose JMU?

I chose JMU for three reasons! I learned about JMU through a University Agency in my country called Agentesuniversitarios. The agency introduced me to an English program called ‘Study Group’ through the International Study Center at JMU which helps international students to improve their English levels and get to know the American culture. They also helped me apply for a great scholarship to attend JMU. Also, I love science and I am a biology major! The biology program at JMU offers a large number of careers and possibilities for international students. Another reason is the location! Harrisonburg is a small town only two hours away from Washington D.C. 

1.png2) What has been the most challenging portion of your experience coming to America?

I had many challenges coming to America. First of all, I had to travel to a different country, Botogá, Colombia to get my visa. It was also the first time I traveled alone outside of Venezuela. I took my first JMU classes online and as an international student that was a huge challenge because we have a lot of internet connection problems. Once I got to Harrisonburg it was better but then I realized all my classes were in English! Thankfully the International Student Center courses helped me get skills and improve on my language abilities. Besides graduating high school online and starting university in a different country online was hard, facing the four seasons was also a big challenge for me. This is my first winter season and seeing snow actually. In autumn, I saw students throwing leaves in the air, I thought that was something people only do in movies. I don’t experience all four seasons in Venezuela.

3) Why did you choose to study Biology?

My major is biology and I chose to study this because I love all living organisms. I have a passion to find treatments for diseases. Also, since I was little, I was very passionate about science subjects such as chemistry, biology, and health sciences. This major is a springboard for post-undergraduate careers such as nursing and medicine.

4) What are your career plans?

I am interested in physical therapy because I would like to help people recover from their illnesses and save lives. My mother is a pathologist and she’s been a great example to me. I always see my mother helping people and that made me realize what I want to study in the future. My parents are so supportive, they never say “Samaris you have to study this or that…”, they say it is my choice.3.png 

5) Do you have any advice for international students?

Work hard in your studies and apply for scholarships. I would say to study English as much as you can and find what you like most. Whether in art, music, or dance, it is important to find your passion. Work as hard as you can but also enjoy your time in America to the fullest. 

6) What do you miss the most from Venezuela?

What I miss the most is my family! I miss my traditional food. We have special dishes with rice, greens, and beans. I really miss the dish, tajada (fried plantains), I’ve never seen that in America yet.

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Published: Monday, February 7, 2022

Last Updated: Thursday, February 10, 2022

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