A Record-Setting Spring: International student orientation in St. Louis

Webster University history was made this month as the largest group of new international students—135 international students and 15 study abroad students, representing 23 nationalities—arrived to begin the Spring 2022 semester at the main campus in St. Louis and the Orlando, Florida, campus location. Another new record was set for the 2021-22 academic year overall, with the enrollment of over 250 new international and study abroad students, representing nearly 50 nationalities. This is almost double Webster's usual pre-pandemic new international student enrollment in the U.S.

Welcome to St. Louis!

On Jan. 13, 108 new international students attended orientation  sessions at the main campus in the Edward Jones Commons in the East Academic Building and the Luhr Building. Staff members from Student Affairs and International Recruitment & International Services (IRIS) led the students through orientation events including ice-breaker games, a visa workshop and presentations conducted by the Multi-Cultural International Student Association (MCISA) and Student Affairs.

The students began checking in at the East Academic Building’s Lobby before noon, then divided into smaller groups for the ice-breaker events and campus tours led by international student leaders and student volunteers.

ChogiThe students’ excitement for these new experiences was evident. “The moment I got out of the airport, it was like all the people were so nice and helpful,” said Chogi Sempa La, an International Business Management major from Bhutan. “And then I just got to the campus today. And then I met some new people, and everybody's really nice.”

International student orientation

I’m really looking forward to making many friends and I'd love to learn about other cultures here and just enjoy the place."

The new international students had ample opportunity to network amongst themselves and make new friends during the first part of the event. Post-lunch, a more formal setup was arranged at the Luhr Building where President Julian Schuster welcomed the students to Webster University, sharing with them the uniqueness of the University’s personalized approach to education and what to expect while engaging with faculty.

“Webster University is profoundly different than, I would say, any other university not only in this area, but throughout the United States,” said Schuster. “It is a truly global university. You will become part of that global society.”

International student orientation

Students were also welcomed by Nancy Hellerud, vice president of Academic Affairs; Simone Cummings, dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology; Michael Hulsizer, interim dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and acting dean of the School of Education; Joanna Finch, AVP of New Student Enrollment; and Thao Dang Williams, AVP of Academic Affairs.

I think Webster will really help me with settling into the global environment [and] prepare me to really work in places all over the world."

International student orientation

The Visa and Compliance workshop conducted by Blerina Polovina, director of International Admissions and Services, was well-attended and interactive. International students at Webster are supported for their immigration and compliance through the duration of their studies and even upon graduation, while on an off-campus work under the Optional Practical Training program.

Advika“I think Webster will really help me with settling into the global environment,” said Advika Ugale, an International Business Management/International Relations student, who is Indian but was born and raised in Thailand. “Considering that my degree is extremely International. The school is international, the faculty is international. It will prepare me to really work in places all over the world.”

“We have noticed a steady surge in international enrollment over the past few years,” said Samrat (Sam) Ray Chaudhuri, director of Global Recruitment. “COVID had put hard brakes to the flow of students when the borders were closed. But the popularity of Webster as a high-quality yet affordable private university is getting more established in the U.S.-bound international student population. We can expect the numbers to grow even further as travel restrictions get lifted further and U.S. embassies are able to operate in full-swing.”

“I'm really happy,” said Ugale. “Everyone here is extremely friendly, extremely helpful. I'm an extrovert. So I’m really looking forward to making many friends and I'd love to learn about other cultures here and just enjoy the place.”

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