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International Alum - Marco Franco
UL Lafayette Intensive English Program (2010), B.S. Biology (2014), M.S. Biology (2017)
Current: Doctoral student in Environmental Science at Baylor University
Home Country: Guatemala
It is quite difficult to find the words to describe seven years of my life at UL. I was thrilled to find quite a diverse group of people when I arrived to not only the University but to Lafayette as well. This is something that, as an international student, is very valuable as the opportunity to learn from others is never-ending. Faculty, staff and classmates were fundamental for me to grow both as a student and as a person. During both my Bachelor and Master degrees, UL gave me the tools to be academically successful; I learned from remarkable mentors not only in my major field of study, but across many other disciplines. I was introduced to new ways of thinking, new perspectives and opportunities that brought me where I am today. Even though school kept me busy most of the time, I enjoyed many events at UL. I hardly missed the Ragin' Cajuns football games, the tailgates, International Week, and all the social activities where I met people that I now call friends. UL is a school like no other; I assure any student from any part of the world would have the best college experience. Even though my time in Lafayette and at UL came to an end, I feel extremely pleased to call both places my home, because home is not where you are born but where you are well received and where you make memories that last a lifetime.
International Alum - Elisabeth Kolb
B.S. Hospitality Management (2017)
Current: Lodging Management Internship, The Walt Disney Company
Home Country: Germany
"I chose to study at UL because I wanted to experience a new culture and travel. I could not have chosen a better university for my college experience. UL Lafayette and everyone here has helped me tremendously to grow professionally and as a person throughout my college career. My biggest influence during college was my academic advisor who was also my hospitality instructor for some classes. He has always encouraged me to achieve more than I ever though I could and has taught me what hospitality management is all about. Being a huge fan of Disney’s exceptional guest service himself, he has inspired me to participate in the Disney College program on CPT employment during my junior year and has guided me through the process. This internship with Disney has forever changed my life and I am beyond excited that I got accepted for a management internship with the Disney Company so that I can use my OPT in the best possible way after graduation. The University has been a huge part of the past four years of my life. Not only did I attend school here, I have also been a student worker for the Office of University Housing for 6 semesters. Everyone in the department has always been extremely encouraging and my supervisors are important mentors in my life. Starting off as a front desk worker, the department has offered me the opportunity to intern as a front desk supervisor my senior year which has been a huge learning experience for me. I have also been involved in several organizations and events on campus such as the University Program Council, which is a great way to learn about everything happening on campus, or several intramural sports teams where I made some great friends. UL offers so many different opportunities that I found it easy to connect to fellow students and get involved. I have also been active within the Department of Hospitality Management as a member and officer of the Ragin’ Hospitality Association, an organization that has helped me develop my leadership skills and that has also been a great networking opportunity. By being so involved within the college and university, I have been selected as the Outstanding Graduate of the College of Business, an honor of which I am extremely proud of. I believe that UL Lafayette is a great place to study for international students and I am a proud Ragin’ Cajun Alumni. The university offers great education with very diverse options of developing yourself socially and professionally through organizations, events, and networking opportunities and seminars. However, what I value the most about UL are the people; with the southern hospitality and Cajun spirit, I immediately felt welcome and I would not be where I am today without the support and help of the students, faculty, and staff of UL."
International Alum - Matilda Mostrom
B.S. Microbiology (2017)
Current: Doctoral student in Biomedical Sciences at Tulane University
Home Country: Sweden
"I joined UL to combine studying microbiology and to waterski for the Ragin Cajun Waterski Team. I never regretted my decision to join UL due to the friendly campus and invested professors. I think international students should join UL because they would receive a warm welcome by both students and by the professors. Personally, the food in Lafayette is enough to make you want to stay. My biochemistry teacher, Dr. Wu Xu, inspired me to never settle for less when it came to furthering my education because he believed in my abilities. For this, I will always be thankful when I look back at my time at UL. I would advise future students to not be shy and talk to your professors if you have an interest in working in their lab. I participated in both the Ragin Cajun Waterski Team, as well as, the Biology Society. What I loved the most about UL was the engaged professors and the number of times I got to take classes with the same friendly students. Geaux Cajuns!"
International Alum - Gustavo Venegas
B.S. Hospitality Management (2016)
Current: Student at HRC Culinary Academy in Sofia, Bulgaria
Home Country: Honduras
"I decided to attend UL after I came visit for spring break. After spending a week in Lafayette and having witnessed the hospitality and having met some great people I knew I had to transfer and finish college there. UL is a very diverse university and very welcoming for international students. There are a lot of activities that unite the students, faculty and community. I acquired many professional skills by working with the Housing Department where I started at the front desk my first semester and then moved to the office, where I finally ended up doing my internship. Throughout my college years, three of my college professors from the Hospitality Program were my biggest influences and inspired me to achieve all my goals. Every time I had a concern, question or was in doubt, I came to them and they knew exactly what to say to get me back on track to achieving my goals. After graduation, I started working in a local restaurant where I was the General Manager. I am currently working towards finalizing my paperwork to be able to pursue my final educational goal, which is going to culinary school. I will be attending a school in a different country, but one thing I am taking with me is the southern hospitality that I was lucky enough to have felt while living in Lafayette. It has been so far one of my greatest experiences, where I got try some of the best food, and meet people from all over the world as well as locals who have in some way or another helped me grow professionally and intellectually. For me, it is a great honor to be a part of the Ragin' Cajun family."
International Alum - Qusay Al-Riyami
B.S. Petroleum Engineering (2011)
Current: MLWD Senior Field Engineer at Schlumberger (Oman)
Home Country: Oman
"My experience in college did not only prepare me for my career, but it also prepared me for how to work/deal with my colleagues at work, "soft skills" as my father calls them. I gained skills that cannot be taught in courses. Through interactions with fellow students, professors, on campus co-workers, organizations (profit & non-profit), and neighbors, I earned a "degree" in people and social skills. I recall being involved as a chairperson in 8 different official organizations (off/on campus) at once! Through it I learned that virtually nothing is impossible, all I needed was to put my mind to it and maintain positive attitude."
International Alum - Xiangbo Li
Ph.D. Computer Science (2016)
Current: Software Engineering for Brightcove (Scottsdale, AZ)
Home Country: China
"People always ask, 'Why Louisiana? Why UL Lafayette?' Well, to be honest, I came to UL because of my advisor- Dr. Magdy Bayoumi, I liked his research areas, and of course also because he offered me a scholarship. I am so glad and even feel lucky that I came to Lafayette and UL because it totally changed my life. As my advisor told us at the first group meeting, 'If you just come to the U.S. for a degree, and then go back to your country, you will learn nothing. You come here also to learn the culture and spirit, and that will change your whole life.' I couldn't agree more after staying in the U.S. for almost 7 years. Lafayette and UL is the kind of community that always welcome outsiders. If your English is not that good like me when I first got here, don't worry, people here are always willing to talk to you and make friends with you if you are open and brave enough to get out of your comfort zone. It's called southern hospitality and you will end up with a bunch of great friends here. Before I came to UL, I focused only on my studies and trying to get a good job after graduation. Thanks to UL, I begin to realize that I can be more responsible, do something meaningful for this community and create some good memories here, and I did. My Ph.D. degree seemed less important to me once I graduated because I found something more important here, which will influence me for my whole life. Of course, Lafayette has became my second hometown, and I will always be a Ragin' Cajun no matter where I go.