Luther College Chips

Luther sees record number of international students

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Yukesh Mikchan (‘21) holds a conversation during the 2017 International Student Welcome Dinner.

Yukesh Mikchan (‘21) holds a conversation during the 2017 International Student Welcome Dinner.

Jorge Contreras ('20) | Chips

Jorge Contreras ('20) | Chips

Yukesh Mikchan (‘21) holds a conversation during the 2017 International Student Welcome Dinner.

Jorge Contreras, Staff Writer

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Going against a national trend in international students’ enrollment, Luther’s incoming class of international students is a record high for the college.

Fifty-two new international students enrolled this fall. Luther College now has 161 international students from 73 different countries on F-1 student visas. First-years and transfer students this year account for 32 percent of the total number of international students.

International Student coordinator of the Diversity Center Amy Webber commented on the impact of this increase for the Luther community.

“A more diverse group of students brings a wider scope of perspectives to the classroom and campus life,” Webber said. “Students from small towns or even insulated neighborhoods in cities don’t often have the chance to interact with someone unlike themselves. The possibilities for expanded worldviews among both groups can only be positive in the long run.”

Executive Director for Global Learning and International Admissions Jon Lund discussed the impact of the increased number of international applicants.

“We had the largest applicant pool ever, over 600 international applicants, which allowed us to have a bigger pool of students from which to draw,” Lund said. “We have tried to diversify the pool of applicants and the countries from which they come over the years. Sometimes this takes time and sometimes a bit of luck.”

Webber and Lund explained that embracing diversity has been an important goal for the admissions department.

“I’m always delighted to welcome so many new students from around the globe,” Webber said. “Increasing Luther’s diversity has long been a goal and the new class represents a wide diversity of backgrounds. I hope students and faculty alike will take the time to listen to their stories.”

Photo Courtesy of Hasan Muhammad
Noor Bibi (’21) and Assistant Professor of Social Work Susan Schmidt
greet each other at the 2017 Diversity Center Welcome Dinner.

Luther College hosts an annual welcome dinner for international students at Peace Dining. At this year’s event, Interim Dean for Institutional Equity and Inclusion Lisa Scott welcomed the new international first-years. After, the students introduced themselves and shared some of their background information. Alonso Zevallos (‘21), a Mexican-Costa Rican student, attended the dinner and shared his experience as an incoming international student.

“Being an international student at Luther is probably one of the most fulfilling experiences that I could have ever asked for,” Zevallos said. “Both my colleagues and my professors are actively engaged in trying to learn about my culture whilst aiding me to adapt proficiently to the new environment”.

Lund and Webber continued to note the importance of this year’s admissions, identifying some potential challenges to the increase in this incoming class.

“Applications have increased from about 200 applicants seven years ago to over 600 today. Luther’s reputation abroad continues to grow, which is gratifying”. Lund said.

Webber added that there are challenges that come with an increase in international students.

“Challenges may appear when resources aren’t sufficient to help support those interactions or cultural adjustment,” Webber said. “More students require more resources. The Diversity Center works hard to provide equity and access to opportunities and support, but the adage is true that it takes the whole campus to support diversity work”.

Lund also commented on these challenges.

“The downside is if we try to grow too quickly without the appropriate support systems in place on campus,” Lund said. “That is not our situation since the overall increase is still rather modest, and we are well prepared to support students who attend Luther.”

Despite all the changes in immigration policies that are occurring in the U.S. Zevallos feels accepted and safe at Luther College.

“I feel like Luther has effectively shielded itself from those issues,” Zevallos said. “I believe Luther to be a very good place for international students because we are more in number than other places. This allows for a very good construction of what international students can offer to a place like Luther whilst having a significant impact on the community. I am glad to be in a place that is very welcoming.”

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