University Park, IL,
13:55 PM

International Students Travel Many Paths to GSU

When she went to her first Halloween party in the U.S. last year, Keerthi Sunkara didn’t realize she was about to change her life, but that is exactly what happened. Keerthi, who is from the Indian city of Hyderabad, was attending a graduate school in Skokie at the time, and was in the process of researching universities to attend the next semester. At the party, Keerthi ran into her friend Kamala Manasa Dhara, who was studying Computer Science at GSU. “She suggested GSU as a good and affordable place. So on her suggestion, I came to GSU.”

Keerthi started at GSU in January 2015 and is now a graduate student in Computer Science. She believes she made a good decision. “The professors are very good at GSU. If I have any questions, they are always ready to help me.”

She is part of a surging number of international students the university has welcomed in recent years. Particularly strong are the numbers of students from India, like Keerthi, who have chosen to enroll in Computer Science.

Picking up your life and moving to another part of the world is a daunting task for anyone, especially for a young college student. Keerthi is the first in her family to make the leap. Fortunately, she found a good support system at Governors State.

When Keerthi first arrived at GSU, she didn’t know many people. That began to change when she took an on campus job in the Office of International Services. “Since I started my job in OIS, I’m meeting new people from all over the world, and I get to help the new students because we are the first people they see.”

The OIS helps students with important matters such as registration, employment, and travel. It not only works with international students, but assists international faculty, staff, and students to study and travel abroad. The OIS also hosts a variety of events to enhance campus life.

I found out about GSU because they had a representative at JJC one day, who told me about the DDP and the programs I could find there. After doing some research, I found that GSU would be the perfect fit for me. I majored in Communications with a concentration in Marketing and Multi-media.
Bianca Mangabhai

Bianca Mangabhai is a GSU graduate whose journey started in another part of the world and under different circumstances than Keerthi’s, but whose time working in the OIS remains a special part of her GSU experience.

Bianca came to GSU from Zimbabwe. Unlike Keerthi, who left behind her family to study in the U.S., Bianca, who graduated GSU in December 2014, moved to Illinois to live with her  brother. Bianca started her studies at Joliet Junior College and made her way to GSU in August 2012 through the university’s Dual Degree Program.

For Bianca, who was coming from a largely rural African country, going to a big university was not something she would have felt comfortable doing. “I enjoyed GSU because I had smaller, intimate classes and I was able to have that one-on-one relationship with teachers, which is great. I got to be a part of GSU when it was transforming into a four-year university. It was exciting just to be a part of that growth,” she said.

She also experienced personal growth, taking a job in the OIS and becoming a student-leader at GSU. “The OIS was a safe haven for me. I started the International Cultural Club to unite the international students at GSU, and became a student senator representing the Communications Department. I wouldn’t have had those opportunities if I didn’t have the relationships I had with the people at GSU,” she said.

Today Bianca now works as a sales specialist for CloudBlue Technologies in Joliet. She said she wouldn’t hesitate to recommend GSU to other students coming to the U.S. “I saw the growth in the number of international students at GSU while I was there, and I think that was because the word spread. What I love about GSU is it is so family-oriented. I would talk to students in the OIS and even though we came from different places, we all got to share our experiences and help each other out. I love that GSU is such a multi-cultural school,” she said.