CIE, Admissions speak on international students

Photo courtesy of Xavier University | Lauren Parcell said that new programs, additions and initiatives at Xavier are leading more students to want to be a part of the Xavier community.

As a follow-up to last week’s article the Newswire spoke with staff in the Center for International Education (CIE) and Office of Admissions to gain insight on international education from the university perspective.

Lea Minniti, executive director of student support services, has been involved in various roles within international education at Xavier. Minniti has experience with international student advising, overseeing study abroad and, as of July, international recruitment.

“I anticipate that we’ll spend this year creating a plan regarding which types of recruitment tactics and strategies we want to undertake,” Minniti said. “I think there are a lot of possibilities including partnering with alumni, current students, faculty and staff with connections abroad.”

“Overall, in the conversations that I have, there’s a real value in having a diverse student body, and that includes not just students within the U.S. but students who are from around the world. It brings important perspectives to the classroom, into the residence halls, and it aligns with our mission: preparing students for a world that is increasingly diverse, complex and interdependent. So how can we do that if we don’t have students here from around the world?”

Minniti believes “we can do more” in regard to supporting international students but  added that Xavier is making strides in providing assistance with adjustments beyond immigration.

“The success coach model has just started this year and we conscientiously decided to make the international student advisors also their success coaches, just so that it was really clear that we don’t just want to be your immigration people,” Minniti said. “We want to be your immigration people but we also want to help you with adjustments. We want to know if you are struggling, we want to know if you miss food from home, if you need a place to get your hair cut, if you want to go to a park and you don’t know where to go, you want to rent a bike—whatever it is, we want to be able to help you with those things.”

May Lee Moua-Vue, assistant director for international student and scholar services at the CIE,  says the CIE’s biggest problem is orientation.

“We want to make sure that everyone has been familiarized with the campus. What we want to do is offer ongoing orientation programs where we can share a little bit more on what resources students can use to be successful,” Moua-Vue said.

Among its services, CIE provides a Cultural Adjustment Workshop, hosts social events like the International Coffee Hour  and Tuesday Tapas to “initiate the building of a network of support as well as new relationships.” The CIE also coordinates the international education week before Thanksgiving.

Moua-Vue says that the CIE does not have the means to provide international students with money for their educational expenses.

“…our pot of money is just for programs and event offerings for international students, and it’s very very little,” Moua-Vue said. “It’s enough to buy pizzas and subs and offer a gathering for people, but it’s not anything big where we get to go on an excursion to Washington, D.C. or some place like that. I’d love to be able to do something like that. I think students will be interested in that but we don’t have the money to do that. It’s very modest.”

\Minniti also spoke on the topic of budget. “In terms of the CIE budget, the CIE has always provided airport pickup for new students, orientation, coordinated the interlink peer mentor program which includes events throughout the year and historically partnered with Citizens of the World to offer and supplement the work of the office,” she said.

The CIE also collaborates with other offices like the Center for Faith and Justice and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion to keep international students involved and feel supported. Minniti said that the international student population decrease in the class of 2021 may be a result of government-sponsored programs being cut.

“The top two populations of international students we had on campus were Saudi Arabian and Brazilian, and they were both government-sponsored programs that were both cut by their respective governments,” Minniti said. “The scholarship formerly given to Saudi students has shifted its focus to graduate study and top-ranked schools. We might still be able to get some of our majors on the list of approved schools. This would require some research and conversations with Xavier departments and the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission.”

Dean of Admission for Undergraduate Admission Lauren Parcell credits communication to the overall growth in the class of 2021, though it’s difficult for Parcell to pinpoint one specific reason. She said the admissions office, “worked very hard this year to improve our communication with prospective students, made a very intentional effort to respond to questions more quickly and be more available to meet with prospective students and their families, either in person, on campus, near their home or via online tools like Skype.”

Parcell said the admissions office is continuing to make improvements so that the admission, financial aid and class registration processes are as quick and transparent as possible.

“There are a lot of great things going on at Xavier, from the new Student Success Center, to new majors to the plans for the Health United Building,” Parcell said. “Plus, the basketball team did so well last season. All of those things and more contribute to more students wanting to be a part of the Xavier community.”

Parcell said there are 12 people in the admissions office focusing on undergraduate recruitment. Their area of responsibility includes both international and domestic applicants to Xavier.

Due to recent shifts of occupancy in the international admissions department, there has been a bit of a delay. However, the CIE is working on strategically devising an international recruitment plan as well as a support system in the near future.

By: Heyhyun Hwang ~Staff Writer~