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Serving as a leader among Midwestern universities in advancing global citizenship is a priority for Millikin University. In the past few years, Millikin's Center for International Education (CIE) has experienced rapid growth, as has the overall number of international students. "Since 2014, we have seen a 100 percent increase in international presence on campus," said Briana Stephens Quintenz '14, interim director of the CIE. "This semester we have students from 36 different countries, with the largest population from Rwanda." According to Quintenz, the role of the CIE is to serve as the umbrella of support for campus internationalization at Millikin and to help ensure that students are prepared for the global environment after graduation.
The amazing opportunities that Millikin affords to its students with regard to international study are no secret. The London semester-long program stands out among the rest, but the University offers a multitude of options for its students to study abroad and explore the world. While these opportunities are certainly vital to Millikin's global connectivity, it is important to also recognize how much of the world comes to the University. Students from four different countries provided insight to University staff on their international student experiences. Their life stories are very different, yet they all have one thing in common: their educational journeys led them to Millikin University.
Cindy Lauwardy - Indonesia
Cindy Lauwardy grew up in Medan, one of Indonesia's largest cities, and has lived there for the past 18 years. Growing up in a fast-moving, urban lifestyle, Lauwardy knew she wanted to study abroad in a place that had a slower pace. When she came upon Millikin in a list of exchange programs, she instantly felt a connection with the University. "I saw Millikin's name in the list of sister universities and fell in love within the first second," Lauwardy said. "I made Millikin as my first choice of places to study because of its strong name. After researching Millikin's reputation further, I knew this was the place for me." Lauwardy's bubbly personality continued to shine through as she talked about the amazing friends she has made at Millikin and the passion of her professors. Lauwardy is on exchange from Tunghai University in Taiwan, where she studies engineering, but she is supplementing her studies here with a heavy load of math and finance courses. The one thing she really wants to do while she is in the U.S.? Meet Taylor Swift.
Gabriel Gil - Venezuela
It's easy to forget that Gabriel Gil is an international student at Millikin. Gil, an international business major from Venezuela, has been an active member of campus for four years. He played a key role on the men's soccer team and has also been involved in numerous business projects and startups for the Tabor School of Business. When asked about why he chose to study abroad, his answer was simple. "My parents wanted me to have the best possible opportunities in life ... The political environment in Venezuela is quite dangerous. My parents wanted to ensure that I would be safe," Gil said. "It was difficult at first to be away from my family, because I am an only child. Now, I can't imagine living anywhere else. I still miss my parents, but I realize that being here is right where I am meant to be. I love Millikin; I cherish the friendships I have made here."
Jocelyn Scott - New Zealand
The first year of college can be scary for any student, even without being thousands of miles away from home. Fear of the unknown did not stop Jocelyn Scott, a musical theatre major from New Zealand, from choosing Millikin. Her passion for theatre, dancing, singing and creativity was the main driving force behind choosing the University. Before starting her first year at Millikin, Scott studied in England. Upon arriving at Millikin, Scott was blown away by the intensity of the musical theatre program. "I've studied theatre, I live and breathe theatre, but I was not prepared for the amount of intense work that goes into making it here," said Scott. "I have found a good balance now, and I am grateful for the intense work given to me because I know it will make me a better artist." Scott explained that being a musical theatre major is more work than meets the eye. One of her current classes, Play Analysis, requires a weekly workload of reading a play and completing a lengthy analysis afterward. It has brought her to understand plays more contextually, which inevitably will make her a well-rounded actor. "I really love Millikin, and I am so grateful for its theatre department," Scott said.
Olga Murego - Rwanda
Olga "Kaze" Murego was instantly drawn to Millikin because of the University's high graduation rate. Millikin student success figures astounded the Rwanda native, and she was inspired to learn more about the University. When she found out that Millikin specializes in small class sizes, she knew it would be the right place for her study abroad experience. A friend from Rwanda had previously spent a semester at Millikin, so when Kaze spent time talking with them about their experience, her decision was solidified. Kaze is a pre-engineering major who is supplementing her studies here with finance, physics and math courses. However, she did make time to take one elective that has become a favorite. "My favorite class that I am currently taking at Millikin University is Model United Nations. I love this class, because it helps me truly understand how the UN works. This class has pushed me to be a better global citizen and understand why it's important to stay active in global issues," said Murego. Although Murego will be leaving Millikin to continue her education, she knows the time spent at the University has prepared her to be a well-rounded global citizen.
Millikin has become a hot-spot for international students to choose for their study abroad experience. The recruitment efforts and commitment to integrate nations on campus has yielded numerous rewards. The University is setting records for international presence on campus and will continue to dedicate its efforts to foster an international, safe, challenging and well-rounded campus to equip its students to fulfill Millikin's mission of democratic citizenship in a global environment.