Internationals honored by university office

| Marcus Clem editor in chief |

Huizhu Chen will always remember the words, “Once a Gorilla, always a Gorilla,” as she learned to adopt some Pittsburg State traditions that had been completely unknown to her.
“American football is an exciting thing. This was my first time to see how it is actually not played with your foot,” she said to attendees of the 2014 International Graduate Dinner who reacted with laughter.
On Thursday, April 24, Chen, who is from China, received the International Office’s Undergraduate Honor Award at the dinner, held in the Crimson and Gold Ballroom of Overman Student Center.
Awoba Vanessa Hemos, who is from Côte d’Ivoire, received the Graduate Honor Award. She attributed her success to the International Office and the university’s system for supporting new international arrivals.
“Until the end of my first semester at PSU, I felt lost,” she said. “I didn’t know who to ask, and the only person I knew was my adviser. But I knew I was missing something … I took advantage of what the International Office provides you.”
Hemos and Chen highlighted a class of international students that includes 54 exchange students, 27 degree-seeking undergraduates and 44 graduate students.
Stephanie Gonzalez, recently hired as a programming coordinator for the office, praised the students’ involvement in the Pitt State community and said they deserve appreciation just for being here.
“We have an amazing group of students and some wonderful activities,” she said. “I often think that international students don’t realize how brave they are in leaving home, coming here and adapting. It’s absolutely amazing.”
Among the attendees were Steve Scott, university president, and Lynette Olson, provost and vice president for academic affairs. Olson offered a word of support to the international student community.
“The choice, desire and courage that brought you to Pittsburg State has no doubt caused you to grow and learn about yourself and the world around you,” she said. “That choice, desire and courage will continue to help you in your future endeavors.”
Sonja Hashman was recognized with the Outstanding Community Member Service Award for her sponsorship of international student activities and support of many International Office events and gatherings.
“Being around international students has taught me that cultures are very diverse, but people are the same,” she said in a writing that was read by Gonzalez. “We all need each other, and a kind word or smile goes a long way.”

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