EducationUSA Interactive: Exploring Community Colleges

EducationUSA Interactive: Exploring Community Colleges

September 21, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


[MUSIC PLAYING] PRESIDENT OBAMA: When we study
together and we learn together, we work together and
we prosper together. [MUSIC PLAYING] ALFRED BOLL: It is my pleasure
to welcome our viewers around the world to today’s
EducationUSA interactive series web chat on exploring community
colleges in the United States. My name is Alfred Boll,
representing EducationUSA in the Bureau of Educational
and Cultural Affairs at the United States
Department of State. EducationUSA is the
department’s network of international
student advising centers in nearly every
country of the world. Our more than 550
dedicated advisors help international
students and their families navigate the American College
and university admissions process, by providing
accurate, comprehensive, and current information about
the full range of higher education options offered
by the more than 4,700 accredited American higher
education institutions. Today’s interactive
webinar is part of a series aimed at providing
you with up-to-date information about current topics related
to American higher education. Throughout the
program, our panelists will answer your questions
submitted in the chat space next to the video player. You can also share your
questions and comments on Twitter using the
hashtag EducationUSA. Today’s online discussion
will include information on how two-year
programs of study offer high quality academic
and technical training, cost-saving options,
and opportunities for easy transitions into
four-year degree programs for international students. We are pleased to
have two panels to answer your questions. The first is made up of
two community college administrators and
will be followed by a panel of two
students currently studying at community
colleges in the United States. Dr. Anize Appel is
the assistant director for the Center for International
Education at the Northampton Community College located
in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She assisted the development,
management, and implementation of international
programs and supports the Network of International
Students on campus. She also facilitates
the study abroad programs, which provided
Northampton students with opportunities to visit
and study in over 10 countries this year. Heidi Russell-Kalkofen
has worked with students coming
to the United States for over 30 years on both
coasts of the country and in both small, private, and
large public associate-degree granting institutions. She is currently an
International Student Coordinator at Montgomery
College, a large community college of over 60,000
students located just outside Washington, D. C I would like to begin by asking
each of you the same question. What is most special about
the community college experience in your view? Anize. DR. ANIZE APPEL: Well
I find it interesting that at Northampton
Community College we have about 10,000
students that are enrolled, and we have a 600 bed facility. We are the only
community college in the state of Pennsylvania
to have a residence hall. And the important word
to focus on is community. I think about last year. A student that
had been traveling for three days, who came
from eastern Africa, and he arrived at our doorstep. He had been accepted
to the college, but he didn’t realize
he needed to fill out the paperwork for
a residence hall. So, what we like to do
is build a relationship with the individual. So for that
particular student, we made sure that he was fed
for two or three days. We made sure he
had accommodations in a nearby hotel. And while all of
that was happening, we filled out the
paperwork to make sure that he could move into
the residence hall. So for us, a community college
is about the relationships that we build with
each individual. ALFRED BOLL: Heidi. HEIDI RUSSELL-KALKOFEN:
Thank you. I think the word
community is important, because when we talk
about our community, we’re part of a community. So our community college
doesn’t have its own hairstylist or its own post office. You live in the
actual community. That’s what you’re there to do. And then you come
to the college. What that means as well
is that we’re really connected to our county. So in Maryland, where
I am now, the counties run the community colleges
along with the state. Where I was in California,
it was a community college district, but it was
still its own entity. So it wasn’t connected to
the federal government. It was connected to the
state and the local area. And what that
means is that those colleges that are responding
to the local area. So for us, for example, we have
Marriott International Hotels in our county. So we have a very robust
hospitality management program. We also sit where the Human
Genome Project work does all of its magic in biotechnology. So we have an amazing
biotechnology program. We need to respond
to that in order to prepare our students for
the rest of their education, because that associate’s
degree is really just the first part of that
whole bachelor’s degree program and moving on to
higher education. MR. BOLL: Thank you both. Very interesting. Let’s go back for a moment
and tell our viewers what are community colleges and
how do they fit into the U. S. higher education system. Anize. DR. APPEL: Well at Northampton
Community College– and I’ll speak a little for Heidi
as well– the community colleges offers the first
two years of the higher educational degree. And for North Hampton
students, and I’m sure as well for Montgomery,
students can come in – We have an intensive English
as a second language program. So even if you have
already an advanced degree from the country
that you’re from, you can come to Northampton
and finish a credential and improve your
English skills, which will then allow you to move
on to additional programming. In addition to
that, it also serves as a pathway for
diverse community to gain higher education. We serve a diverse
community of learners, from those who are English
as a second language speakers, and myself. I actually attended
a community college, because I didn’t
have a prerequisite to go on to a master’s program–
and this was many years ago– but it really
serves the community in a broad variety of ways. MR. BOLL: Thank you. Heidi. MS. RUSSELL-KALKOFEN:
So I think what’s special about the
associate degree– because I’ve worked at public
and private institutions doing the associate level
education– is that it focuses- In the United States we
want to have a liberal arts education to liberate the
minds of our students. And a lot of that is
focused and concentrated- that wide variety of
courses that students take- is concentrated in those
first couple of years of education, the first half
of that bachelor degree. And so that means that all
the students on your campus are really looking at doing that
very important work of deciding what they’re
studying and getting that basic broad grounding
and all the other areas that allow students to be creative
and innovative, by being able to make connections between
different types of things. So that associate’s degree
has a very special purpose. It’s also its own credential. So that if you need to complete
and stop for time before you move on, you can do that. But I don’t know
about Pennsylvania. Certainly in California
and Maryland, it’s also something
that the states do when they fund, to say, we
want our students at the lower division level to go to
the community college, because that saves our
money for our universities to focus on higher
research and upper division work in PhD Research. And so they really guarantee-
Maryland and California- both basically guarantee that
if you get an associate degree, you move directly into the
State University system. They are really just the
first part of that whole State University system. MR. BOLL: Is that the main
difference between two- and four- year– between
two-year community colleges and four-year institutions? Or what would you say
the main differences are? DR. APPEL: I think
there’s a couple of things to talk about in terms
of the differences between a two-year
and four-year college. In Northampton, we like
to say although we’re a two-year college, it
has a four-year feel. And that’s because we have
many articulation agreements with state colleges. We’ve had graduates of the
Northampton Community College to move on to prestigious
universities, some of them even in the ivy leagues. So it is great for an
international student, in particular, whose
transcript may not reflect the rigor- the academic
rigor that we look for, for a student who perhaps
finished their high school lessons here in the U. S. But
it’s a great pathway for them to enter, get the two years. In fact, we had a student who
won the Jack Kent scholarship, which was $100,000. And he had a choice to attend
any college in the nation. So as an international
student, it’s a great pathway for you to enter
the higher educational system here in the U. S. MR. BOLL: Thank you. Heidi. MS. RUSSELL-KALKOFEN: I agree. I think that we’ve
had students that move on to all kinds
of institutions, because we’re in the
greater D. C. area. They go to Georgetown
and American– all kinds of great places. And so I think we have
to help our students understand that the academics
are exactly the same as the lower division
coursework that they would get at any high quality
institution university. For us many of our
faculty are the same. But in addition to that,
we serve the community in other ways so that we
have credential programs and specialized
programs where we do training that
may be for a shorter time than just the beginning
of university study. And that means we also have
professionals in fields that come in and teach for us. So we have the faculty that we
may share with our neighboring universities that
are teaching with us with their academic rigor. But we also have people
directly from the field, and that’s particularly
useful, of course, in things like business, that come in
and can teach to our students in their community. MR. BOLL: So do
community colleges have the same high
quality academic standards as four-year institutions? MS. RUSSELL-KALKOFEN:
Absolutely. DR. APPEL: I
definitely say that. Northampton
Community College has had three of the
last seven Professors of the Year for the
state of Pennsylvania. And that is a huge accolade to
the quality of the instruction, the academic preparation
that our instructors impart upon our students. MS. RUSSELL-KALKOFEN:
Absolutely, and I agree we have
high quality students. But I think the
articulation that you were talking about before
is the other important part. If Georgetown
University is going to take our courses directly
and transfer and say they are exactly
the same, they’re recognizing that those are
exactly the same courses. MR. BOLL: So why are
community colleges a particularly good option
for international students? DR. APPEL: Again, you know I’m
a first generation American. So I understand what it may feel
like to come into the United States and not be able to attend
the college of your choice. My father, for instance, he
had graduated from high school in his home country. And when he came to
the United States it was challenging for
him to get accepted into a four- university. So he attended a
community college. It is a great pathway
to prepare yourself for the continued study that
you would like to pursue. In addition to the fact,
again, a community college is a community. Particularly at Northampton
Community College, it’s a family. Our Associate Dean for the
Center for International Education, Dr. Manuel Gonzales,
as well as Patty Boulous, who’s been at the- they’ve been at
the college between 26 and 30 years collectively together. They have built a report and a
relationship with our alumni. And we’ve seen marriages. We’ve seen children. So it is a community. It Is not just come get
this credential and move on. We actually keep
in touch with you and we encourage your success. MS. RUSSELL-KALKOFEN: Well said. MR. BOLL: Excellent. Do two-your institutions have
the same accreditation process as four-year institutions? MS. RUSSELL-KALKOFEN:
Since the same one. We’re in the middle of
going through ours now. So, institutions in
the United States are regionally accredited. And therefore, they are
accredited by their peers, and it’s exactly
the same process. They’re looking at
all the same things, and they are seen
in the same way. And again, since all
of that coursework does transfer over- in
fact for many institutions if you achieve your
full associate degree, it just transfers as
a block of courses- then it really has to
look exactly the same. MR. BOLL: OK. Going back to international
students at community colleges. What would you say are
the biggest opportunities for them at your institutions
and the community colleges generally? DR. APPEL: I would say, much
like even the native born American student, the idea
of pursuing general studies- at Northampton Community College
we have preferred deadlines. But we really bend to meet
the need of the students. So our spring semester
deadline was November 17th, but we may have students
that apply in December. And again, this goes back to
that personal relationship, where we work with the
student independently to assure their success, to
make sure that they’re accepted, and they are pursuing a
pathway that will gain them what their ultimate goal is. MS. RUSSELL-KALKOFEN:
I think for us, again, it goes back
to that community, so that we do have
that relationship with the community. So students who want to
pursue their education and also get some
experience in their field, have the opportunity to do that. And it’s very local,
and it’s very connected. The other thing that
I think is important, at least at all the
institutions I’ve worked at, is that those lower
division courses, if you go to a
large institution, you may be in an
Introduction to Psychology class with 1,000 other students. We don’t have a
classroom the even seats that many on our campus. So I think our largest
classroom is probably 80. So one of the
greatest opportunities is the chance for students
to get to know their faculty. They’re expected to get
to know their faculty. And their faculty
are there to teach. They’re not there
to do research. They’re not there
or do anything else. They’re there for
their students. So they get that opportunity
to really get to know faculty and to have those
connections in the community. MR. BOLL: It’s very interesting. Sorry. Do you want to… DR. APPEL: I just want
to add one other thing. I believe also
community colleges, we have open
enrollment policies. So for, at least
for Northampton, you don’t need to have
IELTS or TOEFL scores. And you come in, and
we’ll get you squared away with our English as a
second language program. But the idea of knowing
that if you apply, you meet the basic criteria
of the age and the high school diploma, you’re accepted. MS. RUSSELL-KALKOFEN: So yes,
I think most community colleges want just completion
of the equivalent of secondary education as
their academic credential for admission. At our particular
institution we have a variety of wonderful language
schools near us so that we do have a
floor for English level before we can accept students. So we do need things
like IELTS and TOEFL. But each community
college is going to have- again that brings in
a diversity of students too. So you’ve got students
who are looking for a variety of
different outcomes. They may want
technical training, or they may want their
university degree, so that we can offer that
to all of our students. MR. BOLL: Before we move
on to our next question, just very quickly to go back
to English language training, can you talk a little bit
about the specific training that you do in
English for students? Is there any for
prospective students, or is it just once
students arrive? And then what happens as they
proceed through their studies? DR. APPEL: OK. At Northampton
Community College, again, you don’t have
to have TOEFL or IELTS. You apply. You meet all of the guidelines
for the application process. We accept you. Once you come in, that’s when
we conduct the placement test. The placement test
will tell us where you sit on the scale of
reading, writing, speaking, and listening. And once you’ve
taken those tests, we place you in the
appropriate coursework, and you have basically
someone who’s holding your hand through
that whole process. Some students may
complete English 1-4 in the first year and a half,
depending on the student. But again we work with
each individual student. We meet them where they
are to help them to get to where they want to go. MS. RUSSELL-KALKOFEN:
So on our campus we have basically three
levels of English. So we have English as a
second language, which is designed for students
who are really preparing to start academic study. We have English courses that
are college level English but for non-native speakers. And then we have students
who are native level English speakers. So in that middle
level, our students are able to sort of mix both
English and other courses. So I say you may start
with your English and you mix in with some
of your degree courses. And then you move to all
degree courses eventually. So it allows students
to transition. That gives them the chance to
be part of a college community and be on a college campus,
do all the fun things, like go to all the
games and go to all the productions and
the performances and to be part of all of that. But they’re also working
on their English, as well as continuing
to prepare themselves for their degree level study. MR. BOLL: So our next
question from our viewers goes to something
you just mentioned, being part of a community
and how special a part that is of the experience of
being at a community college. Why do your institutions seek to
enroll international students, and how do they become
part of your communities? DR. APPEL: Well our president
at Northampton Community College feels that internationalization
is a very critical component. It’s actually one of our
strategic priorities. It’s diversity and
global engagement. So we are actually
seeking to increase the number of
international students, so that the experience of
our traditional students, in parentheses, is enhanced. The opportunity, again, to
build these relationships with individuals and not
the idea of just the paper. Our study abroad program
works through that as well. We’ve had international students
participate in our study abroad program, which may be
something they may not have been able to do previously. And that’s how we build
those relationships, one person to another person. MS. RUSSELL-KALKOFEN:
Yeah absolutely. Every year I say to
our students that are getting ready to graduate
at graduation rehearsal, that when we poll our
American students, our U. S. born students, that
one of the things that they highlight most specifically
about being at Montgomery College is that they’ve
had the chance to meet all these people from
all over the world and how exciting
that is for them. That they really
appreciate that. We are fortunate,
where we are, to be in a very diverse community. So the diversity is reflected. It also means that
there’s somebody around to tell you where the
really good food from home is. But that allows us then to
really highlight and focus in on why we want to have these
students, because we also have immigrants from
those countries- from many of those
same countries. And they also want to
understand what’s going on in their countries currently. So that makes for a lot
of good conversation. MR. BOLL: So is it fair to say
that international students fit into your strategic plans
and vision for your colleges? And if so, how do you
see things developing? DR. APPEL: Oh, they definitely
do at Northampton Community College. We have over 60 clubs and
organizations for our students. And one of those organizations
is International Student Organization. And in fact, today
at this moment, actually in about an hour, there
is an international student presentation in alignment with
International Student Week. So as a college,
we come together. We enjoy the diversity
of the cuisine, the music, the entertainment. And it really helps
us to become a better, more connected community. MS. RUSSELL-KALKOFEN:
Yeah, I think for us about 30% of our students
are not born in the United States, overall,
and so it really is a very important
part of our community to celebrate that diversity
every opportunity we get. And our students
appreciate that, and our staff and our
faculty and our president all appreciate that. So we too are celebrating
International Education Week. So at this point in time
we’ve had celebrations on all of our
campuses, and we’re very excited to make our
students a part of that. MR. BOLL: That’s quite
an impressive vision. Our next question is,
well, if you could tell us about the international
student support services that you have on campus? Are there clubs, special
programs, that students can take advantage of? How do they meet
American students? Do they? DR. APPEL: So we have students
from 45 different countries at Northampton
Community College, and, again, we have over
60 clubs and organizations for any student who is able-
who would like to join. And it ranges from International
Student Organization to the Muslim
Student Organization to a variety of others. So through those
opportunities the students can meet and connect
with other students. We also have twice
yearly, what we call a Quad Fest,
where the whole campus- we have three locations
plus online- where each campus can meet. They can get together, meet
each other, enjoy music and fun. It’s- The support services,
in terms of tutoring, they’re all free. So we have a learning center. So if they need some additional
tutoring with their English or maybe they’re taking
chemistry, all they have to do is go to our learning center
and make an appointment. And they can meet
with someone who will help them to
study and prepare for the exams or
any other stressful. We also have counseling
services that’s available to our
students that’s free. Sometimes we don’t
always realize when we are undergoing culture shock. So it might manifest
in a variety of ways. So our counseling
department make sure that they get to each
individual student- again, it’s that person-to-person
connection- to make sure that we can
help them along the way. MS. RUSSELL-KALKOFEN: So
we too have our own offices that we work with our
international students. We have some special
programs when they first come in to help them get
settled and get oriented. Because our general
community is so diverse, we also have
counselors that speak several different languages. We have a lot of opportunities
for students to get involved with clubs and organizations. But I think one of the
special things where we are right now in the
greater Washington D. C. area, is that we have good
connections with our embassies that are in the D. C. area too. So there are lots
of community events. I believe most of the
dependents and employees of these embassies
live in our county. So we have lots of
opportunities to come together. We just had a big Diwali
celebration at our civic center that our students were a part of
and that we were able to be at. So we get involved
in the community, as well, to get those
kinds of programs working to support our students. MR. BOLL: Very interesting. Our next question is
about how students move from community colleges
to four year institutions to complete a bachelor’s degree. Could you talk a little
bit about that process, and what you’ve seen
students experience? MS. RUSSELL-KALKOFEN:
I think what you were talking about
earlier with articulation agreements or our
discussions and probably contracts between institutions,
so some of it is very simple. As I was saying, in
California and in Maryland and in many other states
in the United States, if you graduate from that
state’s community college, you are guaranteed a place in
their state university system. It’s a simple transition. At our institution, now
you fill out an application when you first come in,
and tell the university- the state university
system- I want to go to you when I’m done. And then they know. And that way they essentially
save a place for you. They don’t recruit
as many students, because they know they
have students coming in from the community college. They have saved a place for you. As far as the
transition, we work also with the University of Maryland
system to assist our students who are transferred. So we are developing a special
International Student Transfer Program, because our students
go there in such large numbers that we need to
make certain that we have a very specific pathway. We don’t have to repeat
all the things they learned from us about how to deal
with having a student visa and living in the United States. So you know what’s different
and what those transitions mean, because it really is a pretty
simple transition for them. DR. APPEL: For us at
Northampton Community College, we like to say we’re in
the center of the action. We’re about an hour
and a half- an hour and 15 minutes- from New
York City, about an hour from Philadelphia, and about
two and a half to three hours for Washington D. C. So the
transfer process does not just affect the
Pennsylvania colleges. We have sent students- in
fact, an international student from Kenya recently graduated
from Columbia University. So we work hand-in-hand
with the individual to make sure that their end goal
is what we are working towards. Our transfer office works
very closely with them. And, again, the Center for
International Education, we’re a team of
individuals that are there to support you, not just
through the educational process, but through some of those
challenging times, as well. MR. BOLL: Thank you very much. So, with so many good options
in terms of community colleges, how do students find the right
community college for them? And what factors
should they consider? MS. RUSSELL-KALKOFEN:
That whole community thing you’ve spoken about how
you’re working individually with students. Your population is different
than our population. So some of it is about
location and about size. Some of it is going to be
about urban versus suburban versus rural. But certainly you also want
to look at the programs, because all community
colleges specialize in something, because they
often do reflect that community. So, again, for us if it were
biotechnology or hospitality management, then you’d be
looking for something specific. If it is something more general,
a lot of community colleges are going to be responding
to the general needs that are seen all around the country. And you also want
to see where they do have articulation
agreements with, where you can transfer easily to. I always tell students figure
out what your final goal is, and then when you step back,
we can help you figure out how to get there. DR. APPEL: I agree. Northampton Community
College, again, we have over 100 programs. We have micro-credentials. We have specialized
diplomas, certificates. So you really have to look
at what the institution is offering and make sure
that that’s the pathway- the foundation- that
you’d like to utilize to spring to your next step,
even if the micro-credential is the next step that
you want to take. MR. BOLL: Thank you. So we have reached
the final question for this first part
of our program. Could you tell us a
little bit about what makes your respective
institutions unique and special- Northampton
Community College and Montgomery College. DR. APPEL: Again, I think
it’s the relationship. Again, the Associate
Dean, Dr. Manuel Gonzales, has been there for 26 years. Patty Boulous, who’s doing
international admissions for 30 years. We have someone who works
in our admissions office. His name is Mark Orse. He also- he’s the adviser
for the International Student Organization. So our international students
are different but the same, in the sense that we
embrace the diversity. But they’re just like
every other student. And building those
relationships where we’re excited about having
international students through our homes. We have people that
volunteer as host families. So it really is- if you’re
looking for a family feel, with someone who’s going to hold
your hand when you’re in crisis and someone to kind of help you
move along when you’re stuck, that’s what Northampton
Community College is. MR. BOLL: Thank you, Anize. Heidi. MS. RUSSELL-KALKOFEN: Montgomery
College is really so fortunate to have its location and
its connection to the county and the state be such a
central part of what it does. So our students
can do internships at the Library of Congress,
National Institutes of Health, the National Institutes
of Science and Technology. And so because we
have those connections and we have those
opportunities for students, because of where we’re located,
and because of our connection to the community, we’re
really able to offer students a lot of chances
to get experience in their fields,
which, I think, is a unique part of
our institution. MR. BOLL: Thank you both
for such valuable insights for our viewers. We are now going to move to
the second half of our web chat to speak to two international
students currently enrolled at community colleges
in the United States. But first, we would like to show
you some remarks by Dr. Jill Biden, second lady
of the United States and a proud community
college instructor. DR. JILL BIDEN:
In my classroom, I have students from
all over the world, from Africa, Asia, Latin America
the Middle East and Europe. Most of my students
are immigrants and many of whom have left
behind their families, their friends, and everything
that was familiar to them, to get an education
in the United States. Because there’s something,
I think, very special about our institutions. They’re open, their diverse,
and encourage free thought. We have such a vast
and vibrant system that allows students to
reach their full potential. I often say that my students are
my heroes, because many of them have had to overcome so
many obstacles in life- conflicts, tragedies,
heartbreaking losses. But they’re turning
the page on their past. Regardless of their
circumstances, they show up. They work hard, and they
believe, like you do, that anything is possible. MR. BOLL: I’m now joined
by Camila Matamoros who is a student at
Montgomery College. Camila’s from Cali, Colombia
and is in her last semester as a business major. She told me she chose
Montgomery College because of the diversity of students
at the college, especially the opportunity for her to
meet people from cultures she was not familiar with. Kelvyn Osoria is a student at
Northampton Community College. He’s the second of four
children in his family and was born in Santo Domingo
in the Dominican Republic. He is a participant in the
Community College Initiative Program, a program
sponsored by the DOS that provides a quality academic
experience at U.S. community colleges intended to
build technical skills, enhance leadership capabilities,
and strengthen English language proficiency. Kelvyn is a business
administration major. I’d also like to begin
by asking each of you the same question I did before. What is most special about
the community college experience in your view? Kelvyn. KELVYN OSORIA: Well,
basically I can say that the experience of
being in a diverse community, and in this particular
institution, Northampton Community College, I
have the opportunity to not only meet new Americans,
but also I have the opportunity to meet a lot of people
from other countries, which is very awesome. Yes. MR. BOLL: Camilla. CAMILA MATAMOROS: Well,
same in Montgomery College. We have the opportunity to have
people from all over the world. It’s not only
meeting the person, but also meeting their religion,
their opinion about the world. So that’s a reason for me. MR. BOLL: OK thank
you very much. Why did you both choose to
study in the United States and at a community college? MR. OSORIA: Well,
basically, I am participating in the CCI
Program- Community College Initiative Program- which
is a wonderful experience to basically be in an
American environment and having an
American education. Which is wonderful, because I
come from a Third Wor Country. Sometimes it is not
really- in my country sometimes we don’t really
have the opportunity to experience the different
things like we do here. But this particular program
that I am participating in, I didn’t have the opportunity
to choose the college that I was going to. However, based on the interviews
that I had before, based on my interest,
they decide- they said that this is going to be
the most convenient for me. Because here I have
the opportunity to participate in different
leadership programs, which is basically an open
door to success. Yes. MR. BOLL: Thank you. Camila. MS. MATAMOROS: Well, I
chose the United States because, in my opinion,
it’s a great place. Colombia is also
very nice, but we don’t have that much opportunity
that the United States can give, especially to a student. My major, as well, is business. So this country, it’s a pathway
exactly to success, especially in that career. MR. BOLL: Just
picking up on that. That links to our next question. Can you tell us a little bit
about your areas of study, about your interests, about
how you envision your career? MR. OSORIA: Well, basically,
the opportunity of being here is to have an experiential
learning in my business field. So I can say that Northampton
Community College has given me the opportunity to not only
know about the American culture, but also to know
how you do business. So through the
leadership programs I am able to grow, not only
professionally but personally. And it’s a wonderful
opportunity, I think. MR. BOLL: Camila. MS. MATAMOROS: Same. In Montgomery College, I was
part of the business club. So in here we have
learned, well, I have learned how
to do relations with people in order-
connections with people- in order to grow your business. Same as leadership. It’s very important. So I have learned
all of those aspects in Montgomery College that will
help me later with my career. MR. BOLL: OK. Thank you. We have a question from the U.
S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal. Could you tell us about programs
that your community colleges offer students in general? What are the wide
range of offerings that you have, not only
that you found interesting but that you see other students,
international students, studying or looking at? MR. OSORIA: Well,
basically, the opportunity to engage with a community
and be able to volunteer in the community. I think it’s a
wonderful experience. And also we have the opportunity
Northampton Community College to go to different museums. And, basically, I think
it’s a great opportunity to expand the skills. And in terms of programs
itself, as I mentioned, I was participating in
the leadership program, which I find very interesting. And it gives me the opportunity
to know people from the area and from the other different
countries, as well. And I also was participating
in a etiquette lunch, which I had the opportunity to
meet managers and business owners from the Lehigh Valley,
which is a great opportunity to basically grow. MR. BOLL: Camilla. MS. MATAMOROS:
Montgomery College has a program that is
named Phi Theta Kappa. This program, it’s for
honors for students. So it doesn’t give you
only the opportunity to meet great people,
but also to get involved with the community. So they have where we can go
and help people from the church and different activities to
help the community as a whole. MR. BOLL: So both of you
are studying business. What are some of the other areas
that international students choose to study? What are some of
the best offerings or interesting courses that
you have at your colleges? MS. MATAMOROS: Well
Montgomery College, we have pretty much everything. We have nursing. We have computer science. We have- What else? Yeah those are the
most common ones. MR. BOLL: I’m sure
some languages… MS. MATAMOROS:
Languages, as well. Yes. For sure. MR. BOLL: OK. Excellent- MR. OSORIA: Yes. At Northampton
Community College, we have the opportunity
to participate in the second language program. So basically give
us the opportunity to strengthen our abilities
in the proficiency of English. And I think it’s a
great opportunity to basically
interact with others. And also, not only that, but
we also have the opportunity to participate in
the communication program where the college
put us in the spot of being able to speak in public. So it’s a great opportunity
to basically grow. MR. BOLL: And you’re both
doing a fantastic job about speaking to our
viewers in public. We’re really pleased at this. So can you tell me have you
gotten involved in campus activities and activities in
your community that are not just related to your
studies, but related to what Anize and
Heidi described to us as the community itself? That is the community
colleges are so linked to their communities
and that students become a part of the community. MR. OSORIA: Absolutely is. That is one of the good things
about Northampton Community College. The Northampton
Community College gives you the opportunity to
not only be a regular student, but also get involved
in the community. For example, I am
right now volunteering in a church and some other
institution, as well. And I am part of-
I am a senator. I am from the student senate. So as part of our
duties, we are actually the connection between the
college and the student, as well. We are their voice. So basically we made
decisions on their behalf. What we try to do is that
we basically approve clubs. We fund clubs. And also whenever the student
have a great opportunity, they have a opportunity
to basically bring their ideas of activities
that we can have in college. So basically what we do is
that we give them support. We give them their financial
resources, as well. And we help them to
contribute to our community, as well, because sometimes
their ideas is to basically help the community. So they come for advice, and
we give them the opportunity to have the funds. And also the people that can get
involved in their activities, as well. MR. BOLL: Let me
quickly follow up, because you are a member
of student government. How do you feel, as an
international student, being part of the leadership
of the whole college in terms of deciding what
students want to do, what their priorities
are, communicating with the administration? That’s a lot of responsibility. What does it feel like to
have come from the Dominican Republic and then to be
involved in the leadership of your college? MR. OSORIA: Well, I can say that
it is very challenging, very demanding, because I
have to, let’s say, I am an international student. I have to be able to communicate
effectively with them. And also, as I have
different point of view, because I’m coming from
a Third World Country, the Dominican
Republic, sometimes- I can say that one of the
challenges that I have here is that their, basically, the
environment, their culture is different than mine. So sometimes I have to
adapt to their culture. And also bring my
culture beliefs. Sometimes, I can say, that
in this particular position. This is a leadership
position, which I think is very challenging,
like you mentioned, and will it gives me the opportunity
to basically grow with them and also give my ideas
and my voice to be heard. MR. BOLL: Thank you, Kelvyn. Camila. MS. MATASORO: On
Montgomery College we also have a club that is
called Voice for Animals, where we’re trying to raise
funds for animals to take them to that
shelters or to make people a little more conscience
about these animals. The same in the
business club, we were trying to raise funds
for some woman’s in Africa. So the whole idea was that
they created some necklaces, and then here we
were selling them. And then with that
money, we were able either to buy
things for them or to send it back to their
country in order to help them. MR. BOLL: I have to say, I
find it very impressive you are both very involved in
your local communities, in your colleges. You’re certainly ambassadors
for your countries, in your colleges, and
in the United States. Do American students
reach out to that? I mean, do you get,
are people interested? Do you find that
it goes both ways? MS. MATASORO: Yes. I think that yes. I mean, I think that they
feel- I don’t like that word- but I think that they feel like
engage in order for them to be also helping, help with us. MR. OSORIA: Yes absolutely. Whenever it comes, whenever
I go to an activity, I tell them say hey
where are you from. And whenever answer that
from the Dominican Republic, they always oh wow you’re
from the Dominican Republic. Tell me about it. I mean, how was the weather
there and everything. So, basically, and see
that it goes both ways. So their interest in
knowing our culture is the same in terms of we
have to know their culture. Yes. MR. BOLL: That’s fantastic. MS. MATASORO: It’s very cool. MR. BOLL: So our next question,
I think, is a crucial one. How did you both
convince your parents to let you study in
the United States? Let’s start with you, Camila. MS. MATASORO: Well, yes. Well, actually my
father was here, but he didn’t want me to stay
here, especially by my own. I don’t have any family here,
and I had only a few friends. So at the beginning, had to
make a PowerPoint presentation explaining the pros and cons
of why I shall stay a year. Of course, more pros than cons. So that was for him. And then for my mom she was
also a little bit nervous because she was
like, I mean, you’re going to be there by yourself. The language, that culture. But I was able to
convince her, as well. So it end up good. MR. BOLL: OK. Kelvyn. MR. OSORIA: This
is the first time that I am away from my country. And I can say that
my parents, they know that I am very independent. So when I told them that I
wanted to come here to study, they say Kelvyn, are you sure. And I say yes. I am positive. I will go, and I will do it. I will succeed. And they say well,
we always say yes to whatever crazy
idea you might have. So yes, we’re going to say
yes to this one, as well. And we hope the best. MR. BOLL: Thank
you both very much. I mean you know this makes me
think back to my own college experiences and the fact
that all of us, it’s a crucial time in life. Lots of things are changing,
lots of challenges. We’re trying to imagine
what does this mean for me. What am I going to
do in the future? Their difficulties, as
well as opportunities, and great experiences. Can you talk a little
bit about the struggles, or the challenges, that
you faced in college, and how you’ve overcome them
or how you’ve dealt with them? MR. OSORIA: Basically
my biggest challenge has been adapting to these
new culture in the classroom, for example, because
in my country they have the opportunity
to work the same way I’m working right now. They’d say in
terms of my studies right now we have an online
platform that we have to submit assignments and all that. So, basically, that was
very challenging for me at the beginning. But then when you
started to realize that in my particular college,
Northampton Community College, I have a lot of people
that are able to help me, and able to help me succeed. It’s basically kind
of something good. So this is how I
overcome that challenge. Basically, the
learning center, I have been there a lot of
times, because, you know, I was struggling in the
beginning with some classes, but they helped me out, and
thankfully, right now, I am on a good path right
now in a good way. MR. BOLL: Excellent. Camilla. MS. MATASORO: Well, my
challenge at the beginning was the language. I knew a little bit back
home, but when I got here it was totally different. But thank God. I mean, the American people,
they have been very, very nice with me at college. We have high quality
professors who have been there
since the beginning to help me move on
to where I am now. So now I’m already almost
a year to graduation, which is very good. Yeah. MR. OSORIA: Yes. And also not only that,
but the professors in Northampton
Community College, they have office hours. So they always motivate you
to visit them in their office hours so besides class, you
also have an opportunity to talk to them one-on-one. Having a one-on-one
conversation, so you can succeed. If you are struggling
with something, you have the opportunity
to let them know. So they may know that you’re
from a different country. Maybe you don’t
understand the term. Because as we are, as English
is our second language, sometimes we don’t
understand everything. But as we have the opportunity
to talk to them directly, it makes seem easy. MS. MATASORO: My college
also has those office hours, and they are great because
we have the opportunity to be near to our professors. So they might know the struggles
that you might have either because the language
or because you had a culture crush [INAUDIBLE]. So I mean it’s great. There are very good people. MR. BOLL: That,
that’s great to hear. What are some of the things that
have surprised you after coming to the United States? And how have your impressions
of the United States changed since coming here? MR. OSORIA: Well,
I have realized that you guys are very open
to new ideas and very open to new cultures. So, basically, at
the beginning I thought that you
were not like that, but now I realize that I have
been treated as a family member right now. So I can say that everybody here
is very friendly, very nice, very open. And they are able to
teach you and guide you through the process of being
in a different country. MR. BOLL: I’m glad to hear it. But, Camila. MS. MATASORO: Well,
the at the beginning, I thought that you were a
little bit disorganized. But when I got
here, I was Catholic and I went to the
church, and in my country we don’t do a line to
receive the Communion. But in here you got
to do a line in order to receive a Communion. At that moment. I was like oh my God these
people are very straight, even with their traffic. The respect that you have to
the police, it’s amazing for me I mean you see a police or an
army soldier and you are like, let you have it and
thankful for that person. MR. BOLL: Keeping
that idea, what is different about American
classrooms and about the professors that
you have that’s different from what
you were expecting or what you had imagined? MR. OSORIA: Well, I can say
that in the American classroom we have an interactive
conversation. So it’s not only the
professors in the class, but you have the opportunity
to say your own ideas, which is wonderful. Sometimes in our countries we
don’t have that opportunity. We just sit there and
listen to the professor, but here we have the opportunity
say something and give your own opinion. MS. MATASORO: Your
opinion counts. Sometimes in our country
they are a little bit more conservative. As you say here, you guys are
a little bit more open-minded. So what do you think, even
though it might be different, it’s also important. And they take it into account. MR. BOLL: So given
that interactive nature of the classroom,
what do you do if you don’t understand something? What do you do if
there’s a lot you said which you don’t
understand a word or something isn’t clear. MS. MATASORO: I raised my hand. Yeah, otherwise
we’ll get behind. And I mean the
professors, they are so good that they
have already give you they let you to do that. You won’t feel uncomfortable. If you just raise their
hand and say like oh my god I don’t
understand, as well, because the other students,
who might be American, they understand that this
is not your first language. So, I mean, it’s amazing
to have that support from the professors
and from the students. MR. OSORIA: I also
raised my hand. I ask a lot of questions. Whenever I don’t
understand a term I say, hey can you please
give me a little bit of explanation of that term. MR. BOLL: And no one has ever
said oh come on, you know. Let’s move forward. They… MR. OSORIA: No. They are very open. They actually give you the
opportunity and say OK. What I meant was this and that. And, for example,
there are a lot of things that, maybe,
sometimes because of the time we don’t
have the opportunity to cover it in class. So there when it comes
to their office hours. So we can be able
to see them after. MR. BOLL: And so you’re
meeting with the professor, her or himself, in office hours? [INTERPOSING VOICES] MS. MATASORO: That has been
actually my experience. Right now I’m taking
Economics 202. At the beginning, I
was struggling a lot. But I started going
to the office hours. And my second midterm, it
was great thanks to that, because the professor was open
to explain to me after class, in one-on-one situation,
which is even better. MR. BOLL: Fantastic. Now you both sound
like very busy people in terms of studies and
interests and your lives. How do you balance school,
family, and work and all the opportunities that you have
outside of school, like sports and your volunteer options? You know all the things
that are available to you at your community colleges. MR. OSORIA: Well
at the beginning I was struggling with it before. But then I realized that
organization is the key. So I have an agenda
with me all the time. And whenever I have an
activity, I write it down. OK on Thursday, I
have an activity. I write it down. So, basically, I divided
the activities by time. So I would say OK, right now
I’m going to study marketing. And I’m going to assign
two or three hours a day so I can complete an assignment. And once I am done with
that, I can move forward with the other activities
during the day. And that is basically
how I organize myself. And, right now, I am
succeeding because of that. But at the beginning, I
was struggling because I didn’t have a actual plan. But then when I realized that
organization is important, then I know decided to have a
plan and write down everything. So I can be able to
accomplish more and be [AUDIO OUT] mission, as well. MR. BOLL: Thank you, Kelvyn. Camilla. MS. MATASORO: Same. I think that I writing
everything in an agenda is the best option just because,
at the end of the day when you have already completed
that assignment, you can just cross it out. And that’s the best
feeling that you can get. Crossing it out because you
are already done with it. So it has worked also for me. MR. BOLL: It sounds like you’re
both very entrepreneurial, that is, you’re
interested in many things. But through good
organization you can balance lots
of opportunities. Do you think- are there
things that you would still like to do in the
future in terms of what is available to you
where you’ve said you no, I just don’t have time
or I have too much going on? Or do you find the
balance about right in terms of the way your
lives are right now? MR. OSORIA: Well, right now
I have a balance right now, but I can say that I know
I’m working on a project. So once I go back
to my country, I am going to travel the country,
deliver motivational speeches. So what I’m doing, I am
in my preparation stage. Let’s say. So right now I am attending
different leadership conferences, and I am reading
a lot so I can be more prepared and give more to my
country once I go back. So also here I am
working on a project, to do kind of the same thing,
go to different nonprofit organizations, like
Boys & Girls Club, to basically deliver
motivational speeches. But this time I am pointed
in with an ex-convict so he’s going to
give his, basically life-changing experience, a
speech about how his life have changed since he has
been where he can- He has been in a
different program to basically overcome
their obstacles- his obstacles- before. So I think that this gives
me the opportunity to, not only get the
experiential learning here. But also I’m going
to be more effective, once I go back to
my country, because of this great opportunity. MR. BOLL: That’s fantastic. MS. MATASORO: Same,
well, right now I’m working in
international student office at Montgomery College
as the manager. So this experience
it has been amazing. So right now I’m trying to
finish this period with that until graduation. And then after that I’m hoping
to do a OPT which is also another opportunity for
international students to work in any
field in our major. So for right now
I think that I’m balance with what I’m doing. So I mean I hope
that in the future I can start getting some more
experience towards my field. But for right now, I feel
that I have done well. MR. BOLL: So how is,
speaking about the future, how do you think that
your current experience at a community college is going
to impact your future when you’re looking for a job? MR. OSORIA: Well, I’m
can say tremendously. These opportunity- oh-
it’s a huge opportunity. And also not only
looks good on a resume, but gives me the basically
notion of the environment that I’m going to be
working in the future. MS. MATASORO: Same. I mean these opportunity
working at Montgomery College gave me the experience of
how to do an interview, because it’s totally
different back home. Same as writing a resume. So, I mean, this has been great
because all the skills that I have acquired from
this job will benefit my future in other jobs. MR. BOLL: Thank you both. So we have reached
our final question, which is what advice would
you give prospective students, viewers, or anyone else who
is thinking about studying in the United States
and considering studying at a community college? MR. OSORIA: Well, I can
say never stop dreaming. Everything is possible. I was, back in the days, around
own these day in time back in the years, I didn’t even know
that I was going to be here. And look where I am. So never stop dreaming. Focus on the things that
you would like to do. Don’t focus on you’re,
basically, general situation. See outside of the box. MS. MATASORO: Yeah that’s true. I think that if you have
that dream of being outside of your culture or
meeting some new people, just go for it,
because you don’t know what’s going to happen next. And for sure is going to be
good if you follow your dream and what you want to do. It will be good for sure. MR. BOLL: Well, unfortunately
we are almost out of time. But I wonder if each of
you has a few parting thoughts for our viewers? Kelvyn, you gave a
lot of encouragement. Anything you’d like to say about
a community college to end? MR. OSORIA: Well, basically,
Northampton Community College it’s not only an
institution, but a family. The first day that
I came here, that I went to that
particular institution, I felt like at home. So I said, this is not
going to be something different than my family. So this is my new family
right now, and I’m very proud of them. MR. BOLL: That’s inspiring. MS. MATASORO: Well Montgomery
College, or our community college, as its name
says, it’s a community where if you are
struggling, there will be someone supporting you. So don’t just let
your thoughts go. If you are feeling like
that you are struggling, just go for it, because there
will be like a family that will be able to support you. MR. BOLL: Well, thank
you for joining us today, Camila and Kelvyn. And thanks to Heidi
and Anize who joined us earlier in the program. You can find more information
about studying in the United States by visiting
the EducationUSA website at
www.educationusa.state.gov There you can find information
on the five steps to U. S. study; locate an EducationUSA
center in your country, one of 413 around
the world; connect with us via social media;
learn about both in-person and virtual upcoming events;
research financial aid opportunities; and much more. Thank you, and please join
us for future EducationUSA interactive web chats.