Partner Feature: Utica College

We are proud to feature our host institution partner, Utica College, and Ms. Deborah Wilson-Allam (she/her). Ms. Wilson-Allam is currently the Executive Director of International Education and has been in this role since 2017. She was first hired as the college’s Intensive English Language Program Director in 2014, and then later became Director of International Programs in 2016. Ms. Wilson-Allam is responsible for international students and scholars as well as study abroad programs.

What does your orientation for international students involve?

Our international orientation varies a bit between fall and spring semesters because of the weather and what’s open. It includes sessions on academic integrity, culture, and support, as well as how to use the library. We also introduce international students to diversity, equity, and inclusion at Utica College and to health and wellness, where international students meet our counseling staff. Moreover, international students participate in social and cultural activities, including:

  • First-morning American brunch at a typical diner
  • Sunset dinner and outing in Sylvan Beach, NY on Oneida Lake (Fall only)
  • Outing to Oneida National Cultural Center and Turning Stone Casino (Spring only)
  • Day at New York State Fair in Syracuse (Fall only)
  • Evening of pizza & bowling, billiards, or mini-golf with international students
  • Pioneer Pitch-In Community service project for all first-year students and exchange students (Fall only)

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

  • WORLD Project Revolutionary Cities Excursion to Boston, Philadelphia, or Washington: Witnessing the Origins of Revolutionary Liberty and Democracy – International students coming to Utica College are right in the middle of the geographic origins of the United States with easy access to America’s birth cities. In a 3-4 day trip, students can witness where democracy began and how liberty was fought for and tested. Students  visit cultural and historical sites and museums, such as the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, the Freedom Trail in Boston, or the site of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, to explore the true benefits and the great costs of the revolutionary origins of the United States.
  • PioTalks – open-ended or themed DEI discussions open to the whole campus community
  • Asian Student Union – active club on campus
  • Flag Ceremony – during International Education Week to welcome and recognize international students on campus
  • International Cultural Fair – also during International Education Week – for students to share artifacts and information about their culture
Ms. Deborah Wilson-Allam’s favorite place on campus: Gannett Library

What is your favorite place on campus and why?

Gannett Library – there are many comfortable places to sit, quiet study carrels, group study areas, computer stations, study rooms students can reserve, and the best coffee is in the library café, Common Grounds. Also, the plaza right outside the library is a great place to hang out on nice days.

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

We are so proud of all our Global UGRAD students and have stayed in touch with several of them. One stands out: Christine Grace Meneses Catindig, who was a Global UGRAD scholar at Utica College in 2016, showed great leadership skills – including serving on the executive board of the International Students Club. She returned to the Philippines and started working for EducationUSA after she graduated. We continue to connect with her, whether at NAFSA conferences or through her work with the U.S. Department of State in the Philippines.