First international student set to graduate from Caterpillar ThinkBIGGER program 

The first in-person international student will graduate this week from the Caterpillar ThinkBIGGER program in the College of Technology at PSU — the only program of its kind worldwide since its inception in 2001. 

“It was a dream of mine to come and study in the states,” said Juan Cavero, a native of Peru. “The pandemic made me change my goals and leave my comfort zone.” 

Cavero arrived in Pittsburg with his wife and their two sons in August 2021 after having completed the Caterpillar ThinkBIG program in Lima, the capital city of Peru. 

Juan arrival

The program provides an opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in two years; ThinkBIG graduates who have a minimum 3.0 GPA can transfer up to 64 college credits to PSU and complete a bachelor’s in applied science (diesel and heavy equipment emphasis) in 60 credit hours.  

Cavero worked hard and is finishing it in a year and a half. 

“Prospective students choose the program because it is a tried-and-true proven program that provides a high-quality education with an efficient path and an opportunity to work with a veteran advisor who can help them navigate their short stay on campus,” said Tim Dell, program coordinator.   

Cavero didn’t know much about Pittsburg or Pittsburg State when he arrived. 

“The pressure mounted when I realized I was the first international student in my program in 25 years,” he said. 

But he grew to love Pittsburg as a second home. 

“The people are warm, friendly, we made a lot of friends here, my oldest son fit in very well at the middle school, and the community is amazing,” he said. 

International advisor Brenda Hawkins said Cavero made an impact on campus by becoming a mentor to other international families who moved here. 

“He and his family took time to show them resources available as they settled their families here,” Hawkins said.  

Juan award

Cavero also served as an orientation leader and a Spanish conversation partner each semester and was chosen to be the undergraduate honor student who spoke on behalf of undergraduate students at the Global Gorilla Celebration. 

“I am going to miss the activities on campus, the sports, the events of the organizations, and I am going to miss the friends who call me by name when they see me even from a distance when in the beginning, I did not know anyone,” he said. “I will miss the members of the International office, always helping us with our problems, and my faculty.” 

Likewise, PSU will miss Cavero, Hawkins said. 

“He was extremely helpful and compassionate,” she said. “We will miss him and his family! We need a Juan every semester." 

Juan Kiewit

Next up: moving to Texas where he has landed a job with Kiewit — one of North America's oldest, largest, and most respected construction and engineering organizations that operates in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

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International Admission