International students Ivan Hunnicutt and Li Shin "Esther" Chang were brand new to Pittsburg State when they met during orientation three years ago. And as they adjusted to their new lives in Kansas, they found that getting involved in student organizations was good not only for their resumes, but their social lives as well.
Hunnicutt, a senior information systems major from Brazil, and Chang, a junior accounting and finance major from Malaysia, began dating soon after they met. Although they come from very different cultures, they agreed on one thing: they both wanted to take advantage of the opportunities to network with their American and international peers.
During their time here, the two have become active in Students in Free Enterprise, the International Student Association, and Greek life. Both Homecoming royalty candidates, nominees for Crimson Club, and Kelce scholars, Hunnicutt is also a member of Student Government Association while Change is involved in the Honors College.
"Back in Brazil, I would just go to class and go home," Hunnicutt said. "But when I came here, getting involved grew into something serious. It has taught me as much as my class work has."
Chang, who along with Hunnicutt helped with ISA's recent Food and Culture Fair and was behind the idea of the international Night Market scheduled for April 22, said she soon realized the college experience "is what you make of it."
"It's hard to adjust on campus at first, but I took the step to approach American students," she said. "You have to take that first step and ask how you can get involved."
With internships and graduation on the horizon, the couple said they can't imagine finding a more welcoming place than PSU.
"The community and university do a great job making the international students feel welcome and allowing us to share our cultures and learn about this one," Hunnicutt said. "The opportunities, the leadership experience, the friendships...the experience has been amazing for us."