Partner Feature: Missouri State University

Julia Baer is International Services Coordinator at Missouri State University.

We are proud to feature our host institution partner, Missouri State University (MSU). Julia Baer is MSU’s International Services Coordinator and works directly with their international sponsored student population on campus, including Global UGRAD participants. Here, Julia shares more about the international student experience.

What does your orientation for international students involve?

Our International Student Orientation is an amazing experience for our Global UGRAD students as we usually have around 200 students from around the world also attending in the fall. During the pandemic, this orientation has looked different for the safety of our students; however, we usually hold a two-day event involving workshops, campus tours, fun activities, and great food! For the past couple of years, for example, we have our students meet the MSU football team where we have a large barbeque, and the team teaches them fun football drills which the students love to be a part of every year. It always ends with lots of laughs and new connections.

Can you briefly describe a handful of campus clubs, events, and/or programs that are designed with international students in mind?

Julia Baer greets 2019-20 Global UGRAD participant, Watthanakorn Kanthakaew, at the airport.

We have an excellent club called the Association of International Students (AIS). AIS is a multicultural organization active on campus. Students from all over the world are welcome to join and attend events such as the International Banquet and International Dance. Local students also participate and share American traditions with foreign students and learn from other cultures. We also have an International Friends Program. International Friends helps international students experience the United States with a local host. Participants share common interests, exchange culture, and build lifelong friendships.

What is your favorite place on campus and why?

My favorite place on-campus is our Foster Recreation Center. In March 2019, it was ranked by USA Today as the No. 1 Must-See University Building in Missouri. We have everything from an indoor pool (with a lazy river), rock climbing walls, excellent work out classes, and much more. I love any place I can go to promote health and wellness.

Please share a positive takeaway or memorable story from your work with Global UGRADs.

I like to bake birthday cakes for each of my students. I started this when I received my first group of Global UGRAD students, and this tradition has continued! Therefore, my favorite past times are all the birthday parties we have had together. We sing “Happy Birthday” in all our languages, eat cake, and bond much like a family does.

All the Global UGRAD students who have attended MSU still keep in touch, some on almost a daily basis. We have video chats, reminisce about their time in Springfield, and check in for emotional support. I can truly call all of them family. It really has been a life-changing experience both for them and me.