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The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The people behind the office: What International Student Services is doing for St. Edward’s international student population

Gabrielle Caumon
Abenet Hinton, an SDS student worker sits at her desk within the International Student Services office. The ISS office is where many International students can find various resources and is presumably representing over 50 countries on the hilltop. 


Some students may know the International Student Services (ISS) by name, but perhaps are not aware of the key role they play in bringing diversity and inclusion to St. Edward’s University. 

ISS is a requirement for any university that plans on hosting international students with an F-1 or J-1 visa. They observe that the hilltop presumably represents over 50 countries and around 220 international students in just this year alone. 

“It’s been a really great experience because I have met a lot of other international students,” international student from Japan, Emma Fuchita said. “It’s a really great environment to feel like you fit in, but at the same time still embrace your difference.”

The ISS staff intend to make sure that their students are maintaining enrollment requirements, and assist with questions students might have about getting a social security number in the U.S., driving lessons or employment opportunities on or off campus. 

However, ISS is projected to be much more than just a resource for helping international students with tedious and often complex paperwork.

“My favorite role is just getting to welcome new students to the U.S., helping them to succeed in their college and career goals and then graduate,” ISS Director Jacob Harris said. 

Harris has been in the field for 12 years and came to St. Edward’s two years ago, allowing him to work with a smaller population of international students, unlike his previous institution–Austin Community College.

Jacob Harris, the International Student Services Director at St. Edward’s University assists many international students navigate the highs and lows of college life and adaption to new customs within the U.S.
(Kosuke “Matty” Matsui)

“I’m actually able to know my students’ names, their majors and their day-to-day life,” Harris said. “Just having that one-on-one contact with my students and experience is something I really enjoy.”

This connection is one of the reasons students feel supported and listened to. 

“I know for sure that I can go and ask them about any problem I have, and they would help me with open arms,” international student from Chile, Santiago Leon said. 

The pandemic had a real impact on students’ lives, especially for those with international status, making their integration more challenging. ISS International Student Experience Coordinator Rocio Zuniga joined the program after the pandemic hit. At this time, the office was mainly focused on required administration, but Zuniga noticed that the community aspect was missing.

“I think the first step that I wanted to take care of was precisely building that sense of community, that sense of belonging – for students to get to know us and also for them to know each other,” Zuniga said. “And that’s something we want to do with the events we are doing.”

Every other Monday in John Brooks William South 180, the ISS hosts an International Coffee Break from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Their goal is to bring students together over something that’s universal–coffee. 

They feature coffee and pastries from around the world to give the students an opportunity to meet the ISS staff beyond the office and also connect with one another. 

“We always want to allow our students to come to talk to us with any questions or concerns they have, any issues,” Harris said. 

Even though students on campus are not necessarily aware about the ISS events, the staff is working hard to make themselves known. In addition to the International Coffee Break, they are setting up more events as opportunities to showcase their international students here on the hilltop. 

Dates to save in your calendar

Oct. 28: The Homecoming Parade which gives the opportunity for international students to proudly walk with their country flags and traditional attire around campus.

Nov. 15: The International Postcard Night where anyone can come write postcards for their loved ones and friends in the Atrium inside of Moody Hall, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will also be board games available while students write postcards.  

Nov. 17: The International Cultural Showcase for international students to get a chance to highlight part of their culture through snacks, flags and any kind of activity. It will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. inside of Moody Hall in the Atrium.

“You get to know international students and if you have questions about their country, why not go to them?” Fuchita said.

For more information about this nonprofit organization or their events, you can email and follow them on Instagram

“It’s quite fantastic to be an international student, but it also comes with its own disadvantages,” international student from Uganda, Shakib Wauyo said. “The ISS really helped me navigate through the system, the policies and the paperwork. For that, it’s a genuinely big credit.”

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About the Contributor
Gabrielle Caumon
Gabrielle Caumon, Staff Writer
Gabrielle Caumon is a junior from Paris, France, who is pursuing a major in the BFA Acting program and a minor in Journalism. This is her second semester writing for Hilltop Views and her first as a Staff Writer. She loves writing for the Life & Arts section, and is excited to branch out and try out other genres.

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