August 15, 2012

One International Engineering Student’s Journey to Study in the U.S.


One International Engineering Student's Journey to Study in the U.S. - Participant Story One International Engineering Student's Journey to Study in the U.S. - Participant Story
For Brazilian high school student Agatha Oliveira, studying at a college or university in the U.S. felt like a remote possibility at best. While she was academically eligible and eager to learn, the opportunity seemed out of reach. 

However, determined to explore all of her options, Agatha and her mother contacted the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia where they learned about the State Department’s EducationUSA advising services. At the embassy representative’s suggested Agatha visit an EducationUSA center near her home where she participated in a group advising session.

During the event she learned more about the admissions and visa processes and jumped at the opportunity to ask the many questions relevant to her specific situation.       

When Agatha explained to her adviser that the exam and application fees as well as the many other expenses international students incur when applying to study in the U.S. would be prohibitive for her and her family, she was surprised and delighted to learn about the EducationUSA Opportunity Funds Program.

“The Opportunity Grants paid for the entire process of applying to the U.S. university,” says Agatha. “So, all the exams – the SAT exam, the TOFEL – they helped me get materials to study for the exams and then after I was accepted…they helped me with the visa process and they also have helped with plane tickets.”

Next, Agatha faced the overwhelming challenge of choosing from among the almost 4,000 accredited institutions across the U.S. 

“When I was trying to choose which universities I would apply for [the EducationUSA Adviser] gave me a list of universities that usually accept international students with financial aid,” recalls Agatha. She worked with the EducationUSA staff to narrow her choices from that list based on her academic interests, regional preferences, and student life options.  It was not long after completing the application process that Agatha had an acceptance letter in hand from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia – but there was more – “When I was accepted to the University of Pennsylvania, they accepted me with almost full tuition,” Agatha excitedly explained.

Now a sophomore engineering student at Penn, Agatha enjoys all that the city of Philadelphia has to offer and the rigorous academic community at the university. She also finds time to hold down a work-study job on campus and has been pleased to discover that it’s easier than she thought to balance the many aspects of student life in the U.S. Agatha noted that her job is, “really flexible in terms of [the] hours I can work. If I have many exams that week I can work less or more because they understand that you’re a student.”

You can learn more about Agatha and her journey to study in the U.S. by watching her full interview on YouTube.

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