Story by Abby Siegel, Contributing writer
As the long-awaited graduation day approaches, walking across the stage to receive a diploma accompanied with a handshake from the University president is just the start of a new adventure for many international students studying at Murray State.
More than 60 different countries are represented at Murray State including China, South Korea, Brazil and India.
Tyson Manering, senior international student counselor, said there are 1,134 international students – roughly 10 percent of the Murray State student population – pursuing different degrees.
Graduating international students have a wide range of plans after graduation, but the common feelings they have are love and gratitude toward their experiences at Murray State.
“It’s like my second home here,” said Andre Tanjung, senior from Malang, Indonesia.
Tanjung is finishing his second year at Murray State and will graduate with a degree in business management.
After graduation he plans to build his own brand of shoes and bags and export his product through the help of the international friends he has made while at Murray State. Tanjung said he will do the marketing for his brand, but he still needs to find someone who can design the product.
Although he is sad to leave the home he has found in Murray, he said what he misses most about Indonesia is his family.
“Family is number one,” he said.
Tanjung saw his family last summer for two months but he said it wasn’t enough. He said he is going to send them pictures of his graduation because it is too hard for them to get a visa and it is too expensive for them to travel.
Venkatesh Meesala, graduate student from Mumbai, India, has a different plan for the upcoming year.
Meesala has a year to look for a full-time job before Homeland Security will require him to return to India. During this time he plans to gain more experience in information systems so he can one day accomplish his goal of becoming CEO of a software company.
He has applied to multiple companies across the East Coast, but hopes to land a job in New York.
“A place like that is where I belong,” Meesala said. “I never thought that I would like Murray like I do.”
Many graduating international students are in the same position as Meesala–only having one year to find a job in the United States.
Andrea Eskauriatza, senior from Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, is in this situation.
“To be honest right now I’ll do anything,” she said. “I’m not too picky.”
This summer, Eskauriatza has a summer job in New Hampshire as a tennis specialist. Her summer job entails 13-hour days, but she said the paycheck is worth it.
With hopes that her job in New Hampshire will end in long-term employment, Eskauriatza is going to move to the west coast at the end of the summer and support herself with the money she made from her summer job.
Laksamana Virtuecrat, senior from Bali, Indonesia, is excited to graduate so he can reunite with his South Korean girlfriend that he met at Murray State two years ago.
Virtuecrat only sees his girlfriend twice a year, and this will be the first time he has seen her since their last excursion in Canada. She still will be in university classes in Korea when he visits her this summer.
“I’d rather wait for her every minute while she is in school than not see her at all,” Virtuecrat said. “Coming to Korea is me fulfilling my promises to her.”
After spending three weeks with his girlfriend in South Korea, he will return to Indonesia for his last semester at his home university to complete a dual degree program.
His future plans are to complete his master’s degree at the London Business School so he can become an entrepreneur.
Virtuecrat offers words of advice to the Murray State community through the personal growth he has experienced while he has lived in the United States.
“Never give up on your dream, especially in education because education is everything,” he said.