A few years ago, Anup Poudel could not have imagined his higher education journey from Nepal to the United States. Born in Kathmandu, a city of nearly a million people, his familiar surroundings included structures obstructing the views and streets filled with cars. The rolling hills and winding roads of West Virginia were very unfamiliar on his drive from a local airport to his future home, the Fairmont State University campus.
Two years later, the once shy, nervous, first-time student is a junior and a confident ambassador of the University and of students seeking educational opportunities continents away from home.
“I would tell a first-time international student that they have to be ready for cultural differences, but they will have such a wonderful experience. You learn from differences. You have to take that initiative, that first step to come here, to expose yourself to new people and learn a lot of things,” he said.
Poudel, a Math major, spent his first semester becoming more familiar with the language. The process was sped up by his placement in an Honors English course. By the first long holiday vacation, he’d been welcomed into a new culture.
“When I was with my friends from campus, they took me to the theater and we went bowling. I hung out with them at Christmas break. I never thought I’d have times like this. I love people here. They are always willing to help. I’ve been to New York and Boston. I haven’t met people like I met here,” he said.
Within months, when Poudel was communicating with his family in Nepal via Skype, he was telling them about being a math tutor on campus, a residence assistant, a Freshman Counselor who mentored underclassmen, a multicultural representative with Student Government and later a junior senator.
Poudel receives tuition assistance through an international student scholarship and a College of Science and Technology scholarship. He found a job for the Office of Information Technology.
He explains that it helps if you are a “first” person: “If you apply for a job and you are the first to approach the boss and have a good first impression, you will get the job. I got an IT job on campus because I was the first person to approach about a possible job. I worked for them for a year.”
Poudel’s interests are seemingly unlimited: mathematics, physics, biology, languages and international studies.
“If it was not for Fairmont State, I would never have realized I have a passion for all these things. You never know unless you start. You have to take a first step,” he said.
Poudel was the first in his family to enroll in school in the United States and find a passion for international studies. In 2010, Poudel was among a group of Fairmont State students who spent two weeks studying at the University of Calabria in southern Italy. “I want my friends from Italy to come here,” he said. “I never would’ve gotten to Italy if I hadn’t come here.”
As long as Poudel is a student at FSU, he’s making it his mission to help any and all new students settling in to the new environment. He often speaks with professors on behalf of international students who may be struggling with homesickness and language barriers. He spent some time as a student worker in the International Student Advisor’s office.
Poudel plans to complete his undergraduate studies in mathematics, physics and international studies in May 2013. He would like to pursue a master’s degree and a doctorate in the U.S. His ultimate goal would be to create educational partnerships abroad.
“I want to do something for my country, for the university in Nepal,” he said.
Poudel credits one place for his launch and passion for continued learning: “There is something especially connected with me and Fairmont State now.”
What does “be First” mean to you? To share your “be First” story, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.