Why did you decide to study in the USA?
It was always a dream for me to come to the U.S. I find this country to have a plethora of both academic and professional opportunities for me to start my career and grow as an individual.
Furthermore, I love English and this also influenced my decision to come here.
Why did you choose Rockland Community College (RCC)?
Its great location: less than 25 miles from New York City. RCC is very affordable compared to any other colleges in New York state. Moreover, I was very interested in the RCC Honors program, which gives students a great opportunity to transfer to top universities.
What do you like best about your program?
I like the attention and dedication of each person that works in the college and how they are willing to go above and beyond to help students. For example, I experienced severe economic conditions in my second semester. I asked for help from the college and managed to receive different scholarships that made it possible for me to continue studying. In addition, RCC gives me so many opportunities to get involved and gain great skills that will be useful for the rest of my life.
What do you miss most about home?
My family, friends, and the warm weather of my hometown, Rio de Janeiro.
What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
The quality of life and services in the U.S. really surprised me. I also was very surprised when I learned that you are required to have a bachelor's degree in order to go to law school in the United States. In my country, it is possible for a student to pursue a law degree right after high school.
How have you handled:
In the beginning, I struggled to adapt to a new language, especially the writing part. Unlike the US, a good writing in Brazil means long texts, indirect language, and very sophisticated words. I learned the hard way to keep my writing short and direct when communicating in English.
Since employment off-campus is not permitted for international students, it is extremely hard to afford education and living costs alone. Therefore, I work on-campus, which is not only a great opportunity to gain experience, but also allows me to afford my living costs. I also receive scholarships from the President’s Emerging Leaders Program and from the RCC Foundation which helps me pay tuition. Without the college’s support, I would most probably have to drop from classes.
...adjusting to a different educational system?
The American educational system, when it comes to the content of classes, is somehow similar to the Brazilian system. Moreover, universities in America require many general courses regardless of the major one is pursuing. This gives the opportunity for students to receive a more diverse and complete education, expanding from one’s area of study. For example, even though I am a business major, I am required to take two semesters of a science course such as biology. Since
most high schools in Brazil do not have labs, I had a lab class for the first time in my life last semester. It was a great experience and I ended up getting an “A” that class.
What are your activities?
I am the secretary of the Student Activities Board on campus. S.A.B. is a club responsible for planning and executing several cultural, educational, and recreational events on and off campus. I am a member of the President’s Emerging Leaders Program. A program designed to give students important leadership and communications skills. I am part of the Volunteer Services Program and a student worker in the admissions office. Moreover, I am a member of the ECCEL Eleanor Roosevelt Community College Emerging Leaders Program and I take part in the International Education Committee and the Diversity Council on campus.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
I’ve made several friends. It is amazing to see people with so many diverse backgrounds. However, I find it harder to connect with Americans than with international students. Therefore, the majority of my friends are from other countries.
What are your career goals?
My career goals are to complete my bachelor's degree in business, go to law school, become a corporate lawyer, and eventually open my own company to help people in need in my country. Studying in the U.S. gives me a unique set of skills and credentials that will be fundamental to compete not only in the American job market, but also in the Brazilian one.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering a U.S. education?
When you begin your journey into higher education in the U.S., you will face several challenges, just like I did. The most important thing you need to know to overcome them is to believe in yourself and not let anyone decide your future for you. Another advice is to get involved. Once you start college, you need to sign in for clubs and organizations on campus. This way, you will not only gain some valuable experience, but also you will create the necessary connections you will need to succeed. No one can do everything alone and life is all about the journey and the people you meet along the way.