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Saint Mary’s recruiting foreigners

Mandi Stirone | Monday, September 15, 2008

This year’s first year class has five international students, an increase from last year’s class, which had one international student, said Vice President for Enrollment Management Dan Meyer.

That makes this year’s class of international students a “substantial increase,” he said.

In addition, five of the 460 first-year students are United States citizens who were educated overseas, Meyer said.

The international students come from China, Myanmar, Guatamala, Iraq and Vietnam, Meyer said, and the students who are U.S. citizens were educated in Bolivia, Kuwait, Korea, Italy and Switzerland.

Two of the international students had difficult times getting to the United States, he said.

The student from Iraq was “actually a refugee or displaced student,” Meyer said. Before coming to school she was living in a refugee camp, he said.

The Burmese student “came over after the devastation over there,” he said.

“We didn’t even think she’d get out of the country,” Meyer said.

The increase in international students is part of College President Dr. Carol Ann Mooney’s Strategic Plan for Saint Mary’s, called “The Path to Leadership 2012,” in which she hopes to increase international enrollment to “three to four percent of student enrollment,” he said.

The College hopes to continue increasing its number of international students through the aggressive recruitment policies that have been implemented, he said.

Most of the international recruitment is done online and by e-mail, Meyer said, but there is now more of an aggressive follow up.

After the College finds an “international lead,” they are “making sure that we follow up on two or three occasions after that,” Meyer said.

One approach is to seek out international high school students who are part of exchange or study abroad programs in the United States, he said.

He gave the example of a Japanese student who was studying at Clay High School in South Bend, but is now back in Japan.

“When she was here, we had the chance to talk to her,” he said. “Her application will be coming in for the fall of 2009.”

In addition, Saint Mary’s is working with the Department of Defense and the Department of State, Meyer said.

The Department of Defense oversees schools on military bases and the Department of State “runs similar schools in various locations where the United States has embassies,” he said.

“[Saint Mary’s] made a conscientious decision to reach out to them,” Meyer said.

The increase from last year to this year is a trend that the College would like to continue, he said.

“We want to continue to expand this and see if we can get to the point where we’re enrolling 10-15 first years that are international,” Meyer said.