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International students off to good start at MU

Aug. 31, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The start of the new semester at Marshall University also means the beginning of a new chapter with the first intake of international students through the joint venture with INTO University Partners.

The partnership, which was officially signed last year, culminated in more than 150 students from 20 countries arriving on campus in the past two weeks.

Eric Fry, the director of INTO Marshall, said it's having a positive impact on campus and the community. The program is housed in the newly renovated East Hall, located in the center of campus. Inside, students from all across the globe have been congregating to finish paperwork, take placement tests and start academic English classes.

There are different programs available through Marshall INTO, including the pathways program. It is reserved for students who meet certain English language skills. They take six credit hours of English and six credit hours of undergraduate courses.

That's where Hari Vishal Lakhani and Abu Emmanuel are starting their Marshall journeys. Both said they had planned to come to the United States for their higher education. And both met with counselors who advised that Marshall might be the right match for them based on their academic preferences.

"My counselor told me about the INTO program (at Marshall)," said Lakhani, an 18-year-old from Pakistan. "It's like a soft landing pad."

He plans to major in biological sciences and then pursue medical school to become an ophthalmologist like his father. He said both his parents were supportive of his educational choice, telling him that a degree from a higher education institution in the United States carries a lot of weight in Pakistan.

For Emmanuel, who is 21 and from Nigeria, the choice to come to Huntington was based primarily on Marshall's public health degree.

"I told my counselor I wanted to study public health, and she told me Marshall was the best place," he said.

To prepare for his arrival, Emmanuel said he watched online videos about Marshall, sensing it was a friendly place to be.

"I saw that when I got here," he said.

He is rooming with another international student who is from China in Twin Towers East, while he has made a new friend from Kazakhstan.

The INTO program also brought Brandy Griffin, a Clarksburg native who left West Virginia in 2006 to teach in several states and Turkey.

Griffin said she is happy to be back and excited about Marshall's commitment to internationalize the campus.

"I really enjoy the diversity and meeting the people," she said. "(Students seem) very engaged and (staff) is dedicated to making sure everyone has the best experience possible."

Fry said Marshall INTO also opened the doors for a group of 25 Brazilians to come enhance their English through the Scientific Mobility Program. They'll also be working in the community based on their specialty.

And, in October, employees from Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, will come to take the English program, which is a five-week course that helps students and companies with their language skills.



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