Last year, I was asked by St. Francis College (SFC) to write an essay answering the following question so I could compete for a scholarship: “Headlines from news organizations have called into question the value of higher education. If someone were to argue that ‘there is no point in going to college,’ how would you respond? How would joining St. Francis College help you get the most value from your college education?” Answering that, even with my prior experience at a college in Brazil, was a hard task, because while I studied there, I could not see the point in going to college. However, I wrote about how I expected St. Francis College to be the tool needed to create change for myself. A year after that, I am in my second semester at SFC, and I am more than sure that I made the right choice.
If you have ever done research about colleges in New York, you probably know how difficult it is to find an affordable good school and even harder it is to find one in which people can really tell who you are. Because all my prior schools have been small ones in which everybody, from teachers to janitors, knew one another, I wanted a college very similar to that, where I could feel that I belonged to a community and that I was not only another student. However, these two factors combined — affordability and network — are very hard to find in any higher education in New York. Therefore, when I heard about St. Francis College for the first time, I immediately fell in love, even though I had never been there in person.
As an international student from Brazil, my expectations for college were very high. Not only because I would have to deal with a different culture, country, and language, but also because the educational system was very different from the one I knew in my home country and I was finally going to live near the city of my dreams. However, life is not always that simple — COVID-19 came and ruined all my plans to move to the States. This whole remote study experience has been hard for many students, I know, and it was hard for me too, but I believe that if I hadn’t chosen St. Francis College, it would have been a lot worse. The reason for that is due to the fact that, even being an ocean away from the school, I was able to be part of a community, I felt embraced because people cared for me. The school staff knew me, and I was able to learn so much during this time.
Two semesters at SFC are already enough to make me understand the purpose of going to college. I was able to understand that it is through school that we become global citizens, we build relationships, we discover ourselves, we make mistakes and learn with each and every one of them, we create networks, we get responsibility, and we gain knowledge. I have never expected to be changed in such a short time while so physically distant from my school, but I was.
I believe that St. Francis College was able to do that with me and with so many other students — from domestic to the ones who are in their home countries and have never physically been at school — because of its five unique characteristics: location, affordability, personalized education, transformative faculty, and networking of a lifetime. I intend to go over each one of them in the next few weeks so you can be truly aware of the incredible school you are about to discover.
I am Maria Eduarda Tarré, an international student from Brazil at St. Francis College. I am an undecided major, but I am leaning towards political science. I am also part of the Amnesty International Chapter USA at SFC. I am a very communicative person, and I really like to get to know different people, so I guess this blog is a great opportunity to do that!
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