Host Partner Feature: University of Central Missouri

World Learning is excited to showcase the University of Central Missouri (UCM) in this month’s host partner feature! UCM is currently home to seven Global UGRAD participants: Medgunowsky Balthazar II Laguerre (Haiti), Qori Fadila (Indonesia), Sheila Jamal (Mozambique), Holman Castro (Nicaragua), Cheolmin Park (South Korea), Bibinyyaz Omarova (Turkmenistan), and Orest Matsiyevsky (Ukraine). Wesley Hobson, Coordinator of Exchange and Sponsored Programs at UCM, shared how the University of Central Missouri supports international students from all over the world and how Global UGRAD students impact the cultural enrichment on UCM’s campus:

Headshot of Wesley Hobson
Wesley Hobson, Coordinator of Exchange and Sponsored Programs at the University of Central Missouri

How long have you been working at the University of Central Missouri?

I have been working here since July 2016. However, I began working at the International Student Services Office in March 2022.

What is your role?

I am the Coordinator of Exchange and Sponsored Programs at UCM, and I also serve as the Responsible Official (RO) for the university. In my role, I issue DS-2019s, submit annual reports, and apply for the redesignation of UCM’s exchange program. I ensure that incoming undergraduate students of all types have their needs met.

What does your orientation for international students involve?

Our orientation for international students covers essential information from various offices and departments across campus. This includes but is not limited to, the Office of Public Safety, Health Promotions, the Health Center, the English Language Institute, and UCM Housing. Additionally, we have International Student Ambassadors and Domestic Global Ambassadors who volunteer during orientation. This past fall semester, we had a panel of ambassadors and international student leaders who provided various perspectives on acculturation and practical tips. We also take students to the grocery store twice during the week to ensure their needs are met and provide a campus tour to familiarize them with various university facilities, academic buildings, and residence halls.

International students posing in front of the UCM Campus Sign
Global UGRAD students join other UCM international students in front of the UCM campus Sign

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

There are several clubs, events, and programs at UCM that cater to international students. The Modern Language Club provides an excellent opportunity for students to practice new languages with fellow university students and hosts cultural events such as Chinese New Year. The International Student Organization focuses on providing incoming international students with a soft landing by facilitating structured activities that promote intercultural exchange. These include events such as Culture Night, International Food Show, Culture Site Trips to Kansas City, Welcoming Events, and farewell events. The Climbing Club and the Horticulture Club are also popular among current students, with domestic students welcoming international students with open arms.

International students posing on a campus bridge
Global UGRADs & other international students exploring UCM’s campus

What sets the University of Central Missouri apart from other U.S. universities?

The University of Central Missouri distinguishes itself from other U.S. universities in several ways. One of the most notable is the incredible value it provides. UCM offers quality facilities, small class sizes, and dedicated support from faculty and staff at an affordable rate. Staff members are encouraged to interact with students, hear their stories, and offer support beyond minimum requirements. Additionally, the library and recreation center are top-notch, and the Elliott Student Union serves as the focal point for campus events that promote intercultural exchange. The university provides top-notch support and facilities while fostering daily interactions.

What is your favorite place on campus and why?

My favorite place on campus is the Elliott Student Union. The Student Union is a space where students and staff can meet over coffee, celebrate cultural events, and exchange languages and cultures throughout the semester. Its strategic location offers an avenue for international students to connect with the entire campus community.

What is a positive takeaway or memorable story you can share from your work with Global UGRADs?

The Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (Global UGRAD) provides domestic and international students at UCM with a unique opportunity to meet UGRAD students from around the world that would otherwise be inaccessible. Establishing memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with UGRAD students from different countries is not always possible, and without the UGRAD program, the cultural representation at UCM would be lost. The UCM community greatly benefits from the cultural enrichment offered by UGRAD. Personally, I feel fortunate to have UGRAD students at UCM, and I cannot imagine a campus without them. The UCM community would have missed out on so much joy and cultural diversity without their presence.

UCM International Students and Staff posing in arcade
Global UGRADs, international students, and UCM staff on an arcade outing