Photos courtesy of OISS
Pepperdine University recently introduced an International Student Ambassador Program that aims to further develop a supportive global community and advocate for international students, according to their website.
The Pepperdine Student Ambassador Program (ISAP) consists of six international student representatives with different cultural backgrounds and identities that work together to enable a strengthened student body.
- Soni Rusagara: Sub-Saharan Africa
- Reem Al Zubair: Middle East & North Africa
- Daniel Iturri: Europe
- Heet Ghodasara: South and Central Asia & Oceania
- Sheean Hanlan: Latin America, the Caribbean & Canada
- Zhenye (Justin) Yin: East Asia
South and Central Asia & Oceania representative, Heet Ghodasara, a junior, wrote in an email that she joined ISAP because she wants to help other international students find a place of comfort.
“I want to foster an international student-friendly campus by providing more opportunities,” Ghodasara wrote in an email. “I realize that being an Ambassador is not only about an authorized post but also goes beyond being a friend, guide, support, advisor, helping hand and companion. I want to foster an international student-friendly campus by providing more opportunities for guided social interactions, academic support, useful advice and resources to support anxious incoming international students.”
Junior and Europe ambassador Daniel Iturri also wrote in an email that he wishes he had more support when he first arrived to the United States.
“This is my fifth year studying in the United States, and looking back at the first time I left my country I really wish I had the support from someone who had done what I was about to do,” Iturri wrote. “Unlike with other student organizations, ISAP is the chance for everyone to be included no matter their views or where they come from, which to me, is really exciting.”
Brooke Cutler, director of International Students Services and chair of International Student Advisory Council, wrote in an email that ISAP has been a vision of hers since her arrival at Pepperdine in 2014.
“After having worked at two other institutions and in the field of international education for years, I had the advantage of seeing what international student services ‘could be’ at Pepperdine,” Cutler wrote. “I also observed there was no umbrella international student club, thus there was no regular fellowship for students to celebrate their unique perspectives and heritage, nor support one another and navigate the inevitable challenges as a community.”
The first ISAP event, Cultured Coffee, occurred on Friday, Aug. 31 and allowed the opportunity to meet the student ambassadors as well as network with other students.
Ghodasara wrote she expects ISAP to help her build friendships, nurture leadership skills and become a mentor and a guide for “baby [freshmen] waves,” as well as further internationalize Pepperdine.
Cutler wrote she wants to ensure that Pepperdine is a premier global Christian university that is a lighthouse for students from all around the world. The three goals they aim to achieve this year include: “1) enhancing academic success by partnering with faculty to better understand the needs/challenges, 2) expanding Pepperdine’s global reach through admissions and alumni initiatives, and 3) fostering engagement opportunities among international students and with the greater Pepperdine community,” wrote Cutler.
Future events will include Global Fest, Pepperdine World Cup, an international gala at Pepperdine’s President Andrew K. Benton’s house, excursions around the Los Angeles area and cultural dinner nights, Ghodasara wrote. Additionally, ISAP is seeking to start international club convocations and an International Students Mentorship Program.
“ISAP is a very young project, but I have the feeling that, unlike other international student organizations, we will have the resources and platform to make a long-term impact not only for international students but also Pepperdine as a whole,” Iturri wrote.
In addition to programming events, the ambassadors assist the OISS staff and serve as mentors to newly arriving international students during the New Student Orientation (NSO) and International Student Orientation (INSO), according to the ISAP website. The website also stated that each ambassador will receive a $20,000 tuition-waiver scholarship in exchange for full participation in the ISAP objectives and service hours.
For more information about ISAP, visit: https://www.pepperdine.edu/admission/international-students/ambassador-program/
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