A recent push by foreign countries to send students to study abroad has helped galvanize efforts at Western New Mexico University to expand services to international students.
The new Office of International Studies opened this fall semester with a purpose to facilitate registration to WNMU by international students and provide support services for these students.
Currently at least 19 countries are represented by WNMU’s student population and Dr. Alexandra Neves, professor and director for the new office, hopes to see that number increase.
“We want to internationalize the university,” Neves said. “If you look at all other universities in New Mexico, they have such an office and so we were falling behind in that sense.”
Neves is pushing one of the university’s priorities to continue to grow partnerships with foreign institutions of higher education. Recent agreements with universities in Brazil, Mexico and Spain mark the beginning of such efforts.
“President Shepard is really excited to push the agenda of internationalization,” Neves explained. “This new office will be the point of contact for all international students and provide ground support.”
WNMU’s international students have traditionally been recruited to play athletics. Lately, a growing number of students are arriving for non-athletic programs including the Language Institute.
“We had five Brazilian students this summer and there is a lot to learn about the different needs of every international student,” said Neves.
Two students from Spain arrived this fall and are enrolled in the Masters of Arts in Education program. These and other newly arrived internationals live on campus and participate in the meal plan program.
“All of these students are part of the One Hundred Thousand Strong program recently signed by President Barack Obama which funds and finds partners for student and faculty exchanges,” Neves added.
A goal of the office is to have current WNMU students participate in study abroad programs as part of the exchange.
“We want to also send our students to have an experience abroad. No matter what they study, this experience will make them more marketable,” said Neves. “We are applying for grants and scholarships for our students to study abroad.”
Neves plans to fully develop the functions of the office throughout the academic year and to have a concrete plan in place for new students arriving in the next academic year.
For more information, contact Neves at 575.538.6332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.