International Students Celebrate Accomplishments At Year’s End
ISSS Hosts Festive December Event
Conversations and congratulations flowed freely at this year’s December Semester Celebration for international students hosted by International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). Students from countries throughout the world were acknowledged for their accomplishments at the University of Colorado Denver by ISSS staff and academic advisors from the Business School, College of Engineering and Applied Science, and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Sonia, a student from Saudi Arabia who is earning a master’s in educational psychology through the university’s School of Education and Human Development, chose CU Denver because it offers a “quality education.”
“I became interested in the field because education provides a way to measure our lives today; it is important for teachers to better understand how to help each child in their classroom.”
Sonia found the university professors and ISSS staff to be “very welcoming” and “understanding about the fact that English was not my first language.” She chose to also enroll in the university’s ESL Academy and thinks that it will not only help her but will also benefit the children in her classrooms.
“The ESL Academy really improved my English. It helped me to do research and write papers. As part of my independent study at the Academy, I researched how children whose native language is Arabic or Chinese or Spanish first learn writing systems and then must switch to English,” she explained. “I am better prepared to help that child to adapt to classrooms where English is spoken.”
Marou hails from Tunisia and is enrolled at the University of Colorado Denver with the help of a Fulbright scholarship; she is earning her master’s in urban design in the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP). Her new friend Liang, who is from China, is in CAP’s dual degree program which combines a master of urban design and a master of architecture degree. With another new international friend and fellow student from Brazil, they have joined together to tackle a complex design assignment.
“The three of us decided to form an ‘international team’ and meet the design and planning challenges,” said Maroua. “The work has been intense, but also lots of fun.” The trio selected a hypothetical situation of redesigning public urban spaces in the Denver suburb of Lakewood. Their focus is on making corrections and improvements to integrate pedestrian and bicycle flow with other traffic in this busy area.
“Right now, we’re in the administrative phase of the project,” said Liang. “It includes cost analysis, how to develop and manage a team of workers, planning for duration of time and project phases, and other factors.”
They explained that they are also going to challenge themselves further and “push up the bar” by developing designs, too. They’re also honing their presentation skills.
“We have to convince a jury member that our ideas will work, that we’re the best team and that we should be awarded the project,” said Maroua.
Studying at an urban academic and research university has definite advantages and was part of the reason that Liang chose the University of Colorado Denver. “I like being on the downtown campus because we are architecture students, and it’s important to keep a close relationship to the new designs, construction and city planning that is taking place.” He added, “Downtown Denver is famous in U.S. city development history and it is growing rapidly.”
The College of Architecture and Planning offers degree programs in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, urban and regional planning, and historic preservation. Maroua and Liang agreed that working alongside students in other programs and sharing ideas has been invaluable to the learning process. It’s also easy to form friendships with American students and students from many parts of the world.
The city of Denver is set against one of America’s most scenic landscapes, the majestic Rocky Mountains. Design students have opportunities to integrate theory and applied research as they gain first-hand knowledge about sustainable development and practices.
“There’s a consciousness about space utility here, in the way that people are trying to correct urban sprawl,” explained Maroua.
“And an awareness about water usage,” said Liang, who worked on a project for sustainable water design in the open space northeast of the North Classroom building on the CU Denver campus.
Both students are thinking about their professional plans for the future. Maroua’s focus will be on the African continent. “I want to find solutions for affordable shelter and teach people how to build their own homes.” Liang explained that his dream job is to “work for a top architectural firm.”
For Japanese student Takeshi, who began his first semester at CU Denver in the fall, the Master of Science in Business Analytics at the Business School is perfectly designed for his career path.
“I came to this university because of this program,” he said. “This major is new, and not many universities are offering it. They may offer programs that are similar but not specific to math statistics and their application to business situations in the way that this university does.”
Takeshi’s future plans include applying the principles of data analysis in ways that will improve the company where he works. His dream job would be to work for Walt Disney World.
His advice to other international students who are considering the University of Colorado Denver? “Practice English or go to the ESL Academy here. Have a specific goal and be passionate about it. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.”