Though they began their journeys at different points across the world — 63 different countries in all — the international students graduating from Kansas University came together Friday to be recognized for their accomplishments.
A total of 338 international students graduated with a degree from KU this year, about 60 of whom were recognized during Friday’s ceremony.
Regent to speak at KU commencement
Tim Emert, vice chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents from Independence, is scheduled to speak at Kansas University’s commencement ceremony Sunday at Memorial Stadium.
Every year, members of the board attend commencement ceremonies at the six regents universities across the state. Other regents will attend these ceremonies this weekend:
• Kenny Wilk, of Lansing, at Kansas State University in Manhattan.
• Fred Logan, of Prairie Village, and Christine Downey-Schmidt, of Inman, at Pittsburg State University.
• Mildred Edwards, of Wichita, and Janie Perkins, of Garden City, at Wichita State University.
• Robba Moran, of Hays, at Emporia State University.
• Ed McKechnie, of Arcadia and the board’s chairman, at Fort Hays State University.
• Dan Lykins, of Topeka, who is also on the Washburn University Board of Regents attended an event at Washburn Friday, and he said he will be traveling to Pratt this weekend for his grandson’s high school graduation.
“No one in this room has followed an easy path to an advanced degree,” said Susan Gronbeck-Tedesco, KU’s associate vice provost for international programs.
Rachel Magario said she lived “all over” Brazil before coming to KU in 1997.
“I’m a fossil,” she said.
She’s celebrating two master’s degrees: a master’s in business administration and another in interaction design. That’s to add to her two bachelor’s degrees in communication studies and geography that she earned in 2004.
Magario, who is blind, was hit by a car and had to undergo a kidney transplant in 2006. She was one of the co-founders of AbleHawks, a student group that advocates for students with disabilities. She said that while the campus was frequently unforgiving for people with disabilities, she found the people of Lawrence and KU helped her have a great experience at the school.
“In any other place, I might not have survived,” Magario said.
Isaac Kanyama came to KU from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and will be going home with a doctorate in economics. He plans to teach in Africa, and said that while teaching at KU he picked up all sorts of skills and other things to take back to his African students.
A Fulbright scholar, Kanyama also earned his master’s degree from KU. He said he didn’t have a choice in what school he attended — the Fulbright program made that choice for him.
“I would say they made a very wise choice,” he said.
Sarah Puña Valencia, from La Paz, Bolivia, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a minor in music.
“I applied to many universities,” she said. “KU offered the best scholarship.”
Unlike many of her classmates, she plans to stay in the United States. She’s applying to graduate schools (KU is on the list), and said she enjoyed her time at KU, and getting plugged into the Lied Center especially.
“I just met the most wonderful artists there,” she said.
KU Provost Jeff Vitter congratulated the graduates on their achievement and thanked them for coming to KU.
“By choosing to study at KU, you have been a great gift to our students and our campus,” he said.