CANTON -- Shiko Gitau, class of 2017, may have traveled half way around the world to get to St. Lawrence University, but she already feels a little bit at home. Shiko is from Nairobi, Kenya, and her family has hosted St. Lawrence students who have taken part in the University’s Kenya Semester Program.
“I felt like I already had a connection to St. Lawrence, and it’s nice to go someplace where you already know some people,” Shiko said. “The three other Kenyan students and I also met together before we came, so I already have a great network of people here.”
Shiko is one of 74 new international students from 24 countries who will begin their college studies this week at St. Lawrence University. Most of the international students who come to the University plan to stay for the next four years and anticipate graduating with their bachelor’s degrees.
Musa Khalidi, director of international admissions, said that the incoming international students provide St. Lawrence University and the local community with diverse worldviews, which help to bring new ways of knowing and understanding to the campus.
“We are very excited to welcome our new cohort of international students,” Khalidi said. “We are also very much looking forward to making them part of the community.
Several international students have mentioned common themes as to why they chose St. Lawrence, including the small campus environment, its rural location, generous scholarships and the University’s emphasis on a liberal arts education.
Imman Merdanovic ’17 of Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, gave up an opportunity as a vocal finalist on Bosnia’s version of the X Factor to attend UWC Maastricht in The Netherlands. After attending a presentation by Khalidi and learning more about what St. Lawrence had to offer, she decided it was the right place for her.
While Imman would like to try out for the X Factor here in the United States next year, she is excited at the thought of being able to pursue all of her different interests at St. Lawrence.
“That’s what I like about St. Lawrence,” she said. “It’s possible to combine something like pre-med with music and that’s perfectly fine here.”
This year, 28 students from China made the decision to study at St. Lawrence, which is an increase of 11 students over last year.
Monty Woo ’17, of Xin Xiang, China, is not unfamiliar with the United States or small, rural settings. He was a foreign exchange student in Montana during high school and chose St. Lawrence exactly because of its location in northern New York State.
“A lot of Chinese students go to big universities,” he said. “I wanted to come to a smaller school, where I really get to know American culture.”
Like Monty, Shen (Amber) Zhen ’17 of Hong Kong, China, also chose St. Lawrence due to its small size and rural setting.
“This is nothing like Hong Kong,” she said. “My parents would have been worried if I went to a big city in America. But here, it seems very peaceful and safe.”
And like many of the other international students, Amber said she likes the flexibility that St. Lawrence’s liberal arts education affords.
“I’m still not sure what I want to do,” she said. “So I want to try lots of different things. I can try engineering or maybe something completely different to help me figure out what I’d like to do.”