By Craig Lawson, International Programs

While many of us are busy trying to honor our New Year’s resolutions, more than 100 students from 17 different countries not only celebrated the arrival of 2018, but a new chapter of their lives at Washington State University.

They are part of a Washington State University initiative to increase international diversity and are spending their first semester in Pullman as Academic English students or as part of an undergraduate or graduate pathway program.

Known as INTO WSU, the new program’s confirmed enrollment for spring 2018 brings the number of new international students in Academic English or pathway programs to more than 250 for the 2017-18 academic year. They are among the more than 2,200 international students currently enrolled system-wide, a record for WSU.

“My mom is a teacher and education is a focus in our family,” Omkar Kenjale said. A first-semester graduate pathway student interested in computer science, Kenjale added, “I came to WSU because it is a reputable institute and a top university. I researched the staff and everyone has supported me in every way, from picking me up at the airport to helping with my housing.”

Kenjale, who is from India, wants to become a computer software developer and his goal is to attend WSU Vancouver.

A little more than a year has passed since Washington State University and INTO University Partnerships collaborated to create INTO WSU. The partnership enhances the University’s ability to provide a transformative educational experience for both domestic and international students.

When the agreement was announced, WSU President Kirk Schulz stated, “Enhancing international diversity on campus is critically important.”

INTO WSU is an essential part of the Drive to 25, the University’s commitment to achieving recognition as one of the nation’s top 25 public research universities by 2030.

By increasing international diversity, all students throughout the WSU system benefit from greater exposure to international perspectives. This helps them become better prepared to work in a global environment with colleagues from different cultures.

Meichun Shi is a first-semester undergraduate pathway student from China who is interested in fine arts. She turned down offers from three other schools to attend WSU. She cited the quality of education and Pullman’s four seasons as the main reasons for her choice.

“I like to paint,” Shi said. “I want to graduate, gain experience working for an art company, and some day have my own studio.”

Administration posing during a signing
WSU and INTO representatives sign an initiative to increase global diversity on Dec. 19, 2016. (Photo by Dean Hare, WSU Photo Services)

Vice President for International Programs Asif Chaudhry explained, “The INTO WSU initiative boosts WSU’s global engagement and outreach activities. It provides opportunities for the University to share its expertise in research, teaching, service, and economic development with global partners.”

WSU international students in fall 2016 accounted for about 7 percent of the University’s student population. Chaudhry said the goal is to more than double the percentage in the next decade to be more in line with many of WSU’s peer institutions which already have double-digit percentages of international students. This will help create a campus community that bridges languages, cultures, and borders while preparing all students to solve complex global problems.

Over 2,200 international students were in the WSU system during fall 2017, a record number. These students bring with them hopes and dreams for a better life.

That is a New Year’s resolution we can all strive to keep.