FAMU thrives on nationally ranked professional programs and a superior social scene, but when it comes to cultural diversity and embracing our international population, the Rattlers’ strike is not very intimidating.
The international department recruitment efforts have decreased since 2008.
Currently, Florida A&M University has about 175 international students, according to Agnes Coppin, director of international students and scholars.
“International students’ enrollment has declined because the university has not recruited international students since 2008,” Coppin said.
Coppin also said that the lack of recruitment could be due to financial reasons.
Some students expressed that despite the financial hassle, they would still like to have a larger international student presence on campus.
“When you come from a foreign country, the funniest thing you realize is that you’re the one with the accent now, and you’re the one that’s different,” said Amy Ramnarine, 19, a second-year actuarial science student from Trinidad and Tobago.
“Naturally, you begin to seek out people that have similar traits as you,” Ramnarine said.
According to Coppin, for the fall 2009 semester, nearly 30 new international students have enrolled.
The international students come from 45 countries, mostly the Caribbean and West Africa.
Glory Okwori, 19, a second year pre-physical therapy student from Nigeria said she believes the university can do more to increase the number of international students.
“International students add cultural diversity to campus,” Okwori said. “When you know about other people’s point of view, you get to understand them better.”
Okwori chose FAMU because of the weather and its status as a Historically Black College and University.
She was also influenced to choose FAMU by the scholarship money she received. Coppin stated that about 40 percent of students like Okwori receive some sort of scholarship.
Ramnarine and Okwori shared the same sentiments that the passing of time makes adjusting to campus life easier.
“I think learning the bus systems and how to get to Wal-Mart and the mall was everybody’s first tasks,” Ramnarine said.
The International Student Union and Caribbean Student Association support international students in order to make their transitions easier. The ISU consists of all of FAMU’s international students, study abroad students and any one else interested in joining the organization.
“What was more helpful and popular for me was Caribbean Students Association, CSA, which holds meetings every Friday in Foster Tanner [Auditorium] at 6 p.m.,” Ramnarine said. “They strive to not only unite Caribbean students, but also welcome students from all backgrounds and countries.”
The CSA also provides a forum for students to learn about different cultures.
Okwori said a number of international students who came to FAMU performed very well academically in their home countries.
Increasing the number of international students can enrich the diversity of campus life, while providing the university with academically strong individuals.