Volume 42, Number
IN THIS ISSUE
Iowa, Those Who CAN Teach
Year Grad Plan
Half the World Away
This Office, Students Come First
the Level Playing Field
Less than a quarter of the 1,600 international students who
enrolled last fall are undergraduates. While departments in the
Graduate College and professional colleges have recruited students
from other countries, undergraduates have not been recruited
Karen Hartwig, assistant director of admissions, is directing
an aggressive undergraduate recruitment campaign. While the campaign
will be directed at international students, its success will
help your student learn, too.
NAA LOUISA NELSON
Although Naa Louisa Nelson, a freshman from Ghana, had never
set foot in the United States before coming to the University
last fall, she quickly felt at ease on campus.
"The people here are so friendly-they're always smiling,"
she says. "They will come over and help you if you look
Nelson, whose father is an architect and whose mother runs a
catering business, spent several years in boarding schools in
Ghana prior to her enrollment in the University, but had never
been so far away from home that her parents couldn't visit each
weekend. When she told them she wanted to go to the United States
to see what she could do on her own, her father insisted she
consider The University of Iowa, where a family friend is an
administrator in the Henry B. Tippie College of Business. He
wanted her to be in a place where she would not be without family
"My other option was going to school in Europe-specifically
London, where I have lots of relatives," she explains, "but
I thought life in the U.S. suited me better, with all the technology
and fun as well."
Nelson is not alone in her desire to seek an undergraduate education
in the United States. She is one of about 400 such students at
the University. Though she preferred to go to a larger city,
Nelson was pleased to hear from the family friend that the University
offers a solid education in pharmacy, which was an area of interest.
That sealed the deal.
"I always wanted to live in a quiet place. Iowa City is
'city-ish' but quiet, so it suits me perfectly," says Nelson,
who currently lives in Hillcrest Residence Hall.
With an education system in Ghana that is at times unstable coupled
with a yearning to leave her familiar home in western Africa,
Nelson knew an American education could provide good scientific
study as well as the knowledge she could make it on her own.
She has not been disappointed and has enjoyed her classes here.
"I loved Rhetoric I and am taking Rhetoric II now. At home
I always liked to write and take part in debates. My teacher
here even encouraged me to take a writing course, but unfortunately
it is going to be too hard to fit in with my pharmacy requirements,"
she says regretfully. "Oh well, some other time!"
Perhaps one of the most enjoyable discoveries for Nelson was
her taste for waffles, which she had never eaten before and which
she now could eat three times a day. Food was an otherwise difficult
"At home we eat a lot of rice, with almost every meal,"
she says, "but here when it's eaten, it's only a little
part of the meal."
Nelson plans to return to Ghana after graduation, but not before
ingesting more of the United States.
"I'd like to travel a lot. I want to be able to say I am
familiar with people in different areas of the country,"
says Nelson, who spent winter break with family friends on the
East Coast. "People are different in every state."
After less than a year here, Nelson decides that Iowa City earns
"I like Iowa-it's beautiful," she says. "Iowa
City is a nice combination of city and country."
Though she was skeptical, even a bit upset, upon learning of
her family's decision a few years back to move to Iowa City so
her parents could study at the University, Ariadne Gerling ultimately
decided the school was a good choice for her undergraduate education.
Not your average international student on the University campus,
the sophomore from Brazil actually has dual citizenship in Brazil
and Germany and already has spent several years in the United
States. Though she is engaged to a German man and will likely
return to Germany, where she spent one year at a school for the
performing arts, she says she appreciates the opportunities she's
had at the University.
"The educational system is very good here," she says.
"In Germany, all of my classes were dance-oriented. I missed
academic courses. Here I'm getting a well-rounded education.
For example, I have the opportunity to take literature classes,
which in Germany I didn't have the time to do."
Gerling has spent about seven years in the Boston area, once
during her toddler years when her parents-both music scholars-were
students and once when she attended an arts school in her early
teens. A back injury has prevented her from pursuing professionally
her love of dance; however, she is optimistic about the future.
Her original hesitance to relocate has faded.
"Iowa City is varied. There are plenty of cultural events
and plenty of things to do. The Pedestrian Mall has a European
style I enjoy, and Hancher is amazing. It's great to have so
many opportunities here. And," she adds, referring to the
busy, often hectic, life her family had in Brazil, "it has
given me and my younger sisters a calmer life. It's less stressful-a
When Noraihan "Nora" Fong saw that The University of
Iowa was accessible to the disabled, she knew she had made a
"I knew it was a concerned university-one that meets the
needs of its special students," says the sophomore education
student from Malaysia. She, too, spent a short time in the United
States as a child when her parents studied on the East Coast.
Her father is the executive chairman of MESDAQ (Malaysian Exchange
of Securities) and her mother stays at home raising Fong's three
Fong visited the University campus in 1996 as well as the University
of Northern Iowa and several schools in Boston. She chose the
Iowa City campus for various reasons.
"First of all, my parents have friends here, so it's nice
to be able to call them if I have a problem or just to talk.
Second, I took a look at the campus and thought it was pretty,
and I was impressed with Mayflower Residence Hall. Also, I wanted
to feel snow," she laughs, referring to a fascination that
stemmed from observing photos of herself in snow as a toddler
in Boston. "Now, after two years, I've had enough of the
The presence of Muslim and Malaysian communities on campus also
helped steer her in the University's direction, and she has become
involved in a Malaysian student organization. While she was "excited
and thrilled" to come to the United States, Fong had reservations
about campus life, especially in light of her Muslim upbringing.
"In the movies, you see Westerners sleeping together all
of the time, so when I found out Mayflower was co-ed, I was scared,"
says Fong, who was petrified that her roommate might have her
boyfriend stay overnight. "As a Muslim, I have to wear a
scarf-I can't show my hair."
As it turns out, Fong and her roommate, with whom she's lived
for two years, have gotten along extremely well and the relationship
has provided both with a learning experience. Fong realized that
not all Caucasians have the same religion-her roommate is Jewish-and
her roommate realized that even though Fong is from a foreign
country she speaks English, eliminating a perceived need for
hand signals while trying to communicate.
"Even though we have different religions, we have clicked
together. It's kind of cool, actually," she says.
Fong is unsure about her future, but will likely continue her
education in the United States. She has encountered stereotypes-her
own and her classmates'-she is trying to embrace her Asian heritage.
"It can be an advantage," she says, noting a presentation
she made last year to students at an Iowa City junior high school.
"There's something about me that's unique. I want to show
students my culture and help correct stereotypes."
-By Sara Epstein
Top: Nelson takes
advantage of a kitchen in her dorm to cook "homestyle"
Bottom: Fong (left) says she is thankful to have a great roommate
Having students on campus from around the globe broadens horizons.
That's the idea behind a new University initiative that aims
to attract more international students to its undergraduate colleges.
The University historically has recruited graduate students from
other countries but no undergraduates. Karen Hartwig, assistant
director of admissions, explains that the University's new initiative
stems from an ad hoc committee in 1994 and then a task force
in 1996 to assess the University's need for, and the potential
effects of, an aggressive undergraduate recruitment effort.
Last fall the University earmarked $20,000 in seed money for
the Office of Admissions. The money will be used to subsidize
travel expenses and to publish print materials to be given to
students and academic advisors in other countries.
Hartwig, who spent two weeks in March recruiting in six Latin
American countries, identifies several reasons for the new initiative.
"The world is becoming more interdependent, and part of
the learning experience here is enhanced by having international
students on campus, especially undergraduates, many of whom take
the same core courses," she says. "Any exposure to
students different from you is a good experience."
Unfortunately, with several economic crises around the world
and stiffer competition from institutions both domestic and foreign,
international student enrollment at the University has been down
in recent years. Economic factors, though not the main motivator,
cannot be ignored, Hartwig says.
"The market is definitely changing. Many institutions have
been actively recruiting these students for several years,"
she says. "Numbers are down and they need to find more markets."
More important, however, is a nationwide trend among institutes
of higher learning to commit to international education. While
there has always been a respectable number of international students
in the Graduate College, undergraduates account for only a quarter
of the 1,600 international students enrolled here last fall.
Hartwig points out that UI President Mary Sue Coleman has pledged
to increase the University's global focus, which has helped pave
the way to active undergraduate recruitment. Bringing international
students to campus, said Coleman in her convocation address last
fall, "brings the world to Iowa."
-By Sara Epstein
assistant director of admissions