As graduation approaches, international students prepare for another transition, having already transitioned from life in their native countries to college life in the United States. Before leaving, however, a few international students reminisced on their time at ACU and their experiences here.
“My best experience at ACU has been Welcome Week,” said Francisco Banegas, graduating senior mathematics major from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. “As a freshman international student, I was scared that I was not going to be able to mingle with people here and that I was going to be left out; Welcome Week allowed me to get out of my shell and feel that I belonged.”
Welcome Week, now called Wildcat Week, emphasized a connection that Banegas initially experienced from his recruiter, Daniel Garcia, who “went to my high school in Honduras to talk about the university, and he gave the applicants an attention none of the other universities gave,” Banegas said.
Every student discovers ACU through different avenues – some more common than others – and international students are no exception.
“I knew about ACU through Bridge2Rwanda Scholars program,” said Bright Ntambara, graduating senior global studies and political science double major from Nyamata, Rwanda. “They get high school graduates and prepare them for college and help them through SAT exams and the application process. This program has a strong partnership with ACU, and that’s how I came to know about it. I also had Rwandan friends at ACU who had gone through the program, and they really encouraged me to apply to ACU.”
“ACU gave me a full-ride scholarship,” said Jonathan Rugamba, graduating senior accounting and finance double major from Kigali, Rwanda.
College is more than just lasting memories, though. It is supposed to be a time that prepares the student for the rest of his or her life. Despite having moved to the United States to attend ACU, ties to home and the desire to return are still strong.
“I am going home after graduation,” said Ntambara. “I have a job lined up already, but I plan to come back for grad school two years down the road.”
“My plan after graduation is that I will be heading home,” said Rugamba. “But my biggest goal is to build up an equity firm with in the next 10 years at least. Through which I would like to channel as many job opportunities as possible for my nation.”
ACU strives to provide students with extracurricular activities that enhance their educational experiences, possibly helping students find their passion, and Rugamba cited one such activity as particularly meaningful.
“I enjoyed my time in STAR, which is a student managed fund based in COBA,” Rugamba said. “I am very glad I found my passion, which happens to be Financial Management.”
Community is a further important aspect of ACU. Specifically, ACU desires to provide all students with an opportunity to find community. Banegas and Ntambara found the community here to be strong.
“Community was definitely what made this time at ACU enjoyable, bearable when times got hard and what allowed me to find my faith in Christ,” Banegas said.
“I find that the Christian nature of the school has been consistent throughout my time here,” Ntamabara said.
Regardless of a student’s background, college is a time of transition. During this time, students try to find their footing and adjust to more challenging academics, living independently and finding a community.
Despite students’ best efforts to prepare themselves, the future can still be up in the air. Some amount of uncertainty is common among college students and graduates alike.
“Future is always the future, we can only guess at what it truly holds,” said Rugamba. “We may feel prepared but we can’t certainly be sure.”
When asked what piece of advice they would give to any incoming or current international students at ACU, Ntambara and Rugamba provided valuable insights.
“Have an end in mind and work towards it and love people and try to find the best in them,” Rugamba said.
“Get out of your comfort zone and meet new people,” Ntambara said. “Be proactive about showcasing your culture, values, and whatever difference you bring to ACU; this is how you add value to this Christian college.”