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Brazilian STEM program brings students to PSU

January 28, 2014 1:00PM


The U.S. isn’t the only nation in the world that is trying to encourage students to consider the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields of study. A number of university students from Brazil are currently studying at Pittsburg State University as part of a Brazilian government program designed to produce more graduates in high-demand fields.

The Brazil Scientific Mobility Program provides scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students in the STEM fields from Brazil for study at colleges and universities in the U.S. The program is part of the Brazilian government's effort to grant 100,000 scholarships to the best students from Brazil for study abroad at some of the world’s top universities.

“These students will return to Brazil to complete their degrees,” said Christine Mekkaoui, director of the Intensive English Program at PSU. “At PSU, at least six of the students are working on strengthening their English. They take classes in their respective majors as their English improves.”

Mekkaoui said four students from Brazil have previously completed their work at PSU and have returned home. Two others started this spring, but didn’t need Intensive English.

One of the program’s goals is to promote international scientific research and cooperation. When the Brazilians now in PSU’s Intensive English Program gathered on campus recently, they said they are planning on research careers in biology, genetics, pharmaceuticals and related fields.

Coming to PSU was the first trip to the U.S. for all of the members of the group and for most, it was their first international trip. They have seen snow for the first time, made new friends from around the world and have immersed themselves in the culture.

One surprise, they all said, was how welcoming the campus and community has been.

“I was really surprised at how friendly the people are here,” said Leticia Guilhen, who plans on a career related to biotechnology and genetics.

The students currently studying Intensive English at PSU as part of the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program are: Simony Satiro da Cruz, Debora Costa Brito Da Silva, Douglas Lyra De Holanda, Emely Lopes Baldi Da Silva, Leticia Castilho Guilhen, and Flavia Nepomuceno Queiroz. Eduardo De Medeiros Gass completed his IEP last fall and is currently studying full-time in his major this spring.

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