Senior in graphic design Gabriela Alvarez has been given the opportunity to study at Pittsburg State University through a unique program based in her home country of Paraguay.
Alvarez, along with several other Paraguayan students, is part of the fifth group to come to PSU as part of the Becas Autogestionadas de Intercambio Internacional (Self-managed International Exchange) scholarship program for students at the undergraduate level sponsored by several committees and organizations on the national level in Paraguay. The exchange program is part of the larger “Don Carlos Antonio López Program (DCAL)” which aims to increase the number of Paraguayan nationals that hold masters and doctoral degrees.
“The program originally provided this experience just for graduate studies, but then they realized the program would be a good opportunity for people to be more acclimated before they go to do their graduate degree,” Alvarez said. “About one-hundred twenty-five students are part of this program. (DCAL) also has like sixteen (universities) we can choose from. Sixteen students chose Kansas, fifteen students chose Wichita, and I chose Pittsburg. I realized that Pittsburg has a lot of opportunities for international students like the Writing Center and the Student Success office, and the program here is more about my career.”
While this is Alvarez’s first semester in PSU’s graphic design program, she is in the final year of her program at her school in Paraguay.
“(PSU’s program) gives me the opportunity to take classes in other subjects and areas (than my major), like art for example,” Alvarez said. “It let’s me develop skills that I might not have the opportunity to develop in my country.”
Alvarez feels that the opportunity to take art classes and other classes outside her major help inspire her designs in her graphics courses.
“For many of my design projects I need to develop my creativity as a designer,” Alvarez said. “Subjects like painting and drawing can help to develop that area. You can get inspiration (from those classes), take that inspiration and use it in your designs. That’s why I decided to (attend additional classes) while taking my technology courses. We don’t go deep into (painting and drawing) in my country, so PSU lets me study more about those topics.”
Alvarez also appreciates how the courses at PSU and the resources available to her help her improve her English-language skills.
“I’m taking ‘Web-User Experience’ in the KTC (Kansas Technology Center),” Alvarez said. “They help you not just to design but to combine (design) with technology. We also practice a lot of English in that class because we have to write blogs every week. In my painting classes we must write essays in English. It’s very challenging for me sometimes, but I have the Writing Center and I submit everything there before I submit my essays to my professors.”
Additional information about PSU international students and programs can be found through the PSU Office of International Programs and Services (IPSO) in 118 Whitesitt Hall.