As we did last month, we are happy to once again feature one of the 50+ universities that host Global UGRAD students during their time in the United States. Jillian Collins, the Director of sponsored student programs at the University of Missouri, Columbia, shares some of the ways Mizzou promotes international connections on campus. You can find out more about this university at their website.
1. How long have you been working at Mizzou? What is your role?
I have been working for MU International Student and Scholar Services for close to 7 years. I serve as the director of sponsored student programs.
2. What does your orientation for international students involve?
International Student Welcome takes place the week before the semester starts. We cover a wide variety of topics that are valuable to international students as they prepare for their first semester, such as navigating course registration, community and campus transportation services, resources for navigating the Columbia community, and campus safety. Orientation also includes social events that allow new students to get to know each other, including a shopping trip to gather necessary supplies, small group activities, a campus tour and a group meal. Additionally, MU is home to many campus traditions – a few of which take place during the same week, including First Roar, a pep rally to welcome all new students to campus, and the Tiger Walk, which symbolically marks new students’ entrance to MU.
3. Can you briefly describe a handful of campus clubs, events, and/or programs that are designed with international students in mind?
The University of Missouri has more than 600 recognized student organizations and hosts several international student-focused events each year. Many of MU’s international students have created student organizations that have enriched culture-focused groups on our campus. The International Student Welcome Party and International Flag Day are two signature annual events of MU’s Missouri International Student Council, the umbrella organization representing international student organizations at the University of Missouri. Islam Awareness Month is an annual program hosted by MU’s Muslim Student Organization, which seeks to bring awareness to Islamic culture and traditions. Two MU International Student and Scholar Services programs, the International Friendship Program and Kaleidoscope, seek to provide opportunities for international students to get engaged beyond campus and share their culture and experiences with American families and K-12 schools in the Columbia community.
4. What is your favorite place on campus and why?
Hands-down my favorite place on campus is the Quad. It’s a beautiful, lively space in the center of campus that makes for a perfect, sunny study spot or is great for enjoying midday lunch breaks.
5. Please share a positive takeaway or memorable story from your work with Global UGRADs.
We have hosted many wonderful Global UGRAD students at Mizzou . I have unique memories with many of them, but I think there is something very special about the UGRAD program that is distinctly different from many other programs. Often times on college campuses, we see that international students will “group together” and find it difficult to connect with American students and even other international students. The UGRAD students may represent 3-5 different countries and by the end of their program, they are almost always inseparable. They each bring a unique strength to the group and they journey through their semester abroad leaning on each other. Students from widely different countries, in some cases, build a friendship that is sure to last for years to come.