Most children are not sure what they want to be when they grow up; however, this was not the case for Harry L.
For many students, going to college means either leaving home or moving to a new state. For others, it involves a more drastic transition: leaving their home country.
As the University of Louisiana at Lafayette continues to grow on a global scale, so has its student body. Today, the University is proud to have students from all 50 states and 98 countries on its campus. With so many different cultures on campus, the Office of International Affairs, the Lafayette International Center, and the Alumni Association have partnered together to host the UL Lafayette International Student Graduation Reception: an event focused on recognizing international students and welcoming them into the Ragin’ Cajun Alumni Family.
Rose Honegger serves as the director of the Office of International Affairs and knows firsthand what it feels like to jump into a new culture. Originally from Malaysia, Honegger moved to Canada as an international student for her undergraduate degree. She later traveled to Illinois for graduate school and eventually made her way to Lafayette to start her career in international affairs. As director, Honegger says that the main focus of the office is to support and serve international students. When the Lafayette International Center proposed the idea of an event for international graduates, Honegger jumped on the opportunity. “It’s great that the city understands the importance of our international students and staying in contact with them,” said Honegger. According to her, most prospective students find out about the University through word-of-mouth. Therefore, having representatives for the school around the world is crucial for its continued cultural growth.
As part of the International Student Graduation Reception, Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux recognizes each student as a Goodwill Ambassador of Lafayette. Camilia Lee was one of the students recognized at this year’s event and said that it was a memorable experience. “I loved getting to hear stories from other international students,” said Lee. Both of Lee’s parents met here at the University as international students from Malaysia. This makes Lee a second generation international student and now a second generation alumna. “One of my favorite memories is when my parents traveled to Lafayette for my graduation and found their bricks on the Walk of Honor for the first time,” said Lee. Even though it had been 20 years since Lee’s parents stepped foot on campus, the welcoming environment of the University hadn’t changed.
Now that the UL Lafayette International Student Graduation Reception is on its feet, the hope is that the event will get bigger and better each year. Honegger hopes that this event will serve as a way to stay in better contact with our international alumni. “Even if we make contact with only one or two alumni, that can go a really long way,” said Honegger. Regardless of where our international alumni plant their roots, the Alumni Association will always serve as a place that they can call home.
Photo: Baoying Liew, a native of Malaysia, finds his country's flag before the International Student Graduation Reception.