Meet Laryssa Petryshyn, the new managing director of the University of South Carolina International Accelerator Program (IAP). With more than 20 years’ experience working in higher education, she is excited to help international students on their journey to studying in the US.
Read on to find out more about how Petryshyn and her student services team support UofSC’s international students.
A Career of Developing International Support Services from the Ground Up
Petryshyn earned her master’s degree in political science and international trade at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her first job in higher education had her working in admissions; within a year, Petryshyn’s role expanded to working with international admissions.
She discovered that her employer did not have an international student services department or office, even though “we had [more than] 1,000 [international] students, and the total population was 3,000 students,” Petryshyn says.
So, she took the initiative to build one.
As a Principal Designated School Official, or PDSO, Petryshyn designed and built the school’s international student services infrastructure and resources, developing orientation, mentoring, and host family programs. All campus cultural programs were also run through her office.
Petryshyn was also tasked with developing a study abroad office, both for short-term and semester programs. She was responsible for building a core-level English learning program and putting together a team for it.
She has more than 20 years of experience centered around international higher education, which she now brings to the UofSC IAP.
“It’s been a wonderful opportunity for me, both to meet all the people at Shorelight and all the different areas that I’ve been able to interact with, as I take on this new role at the University of South Carolina,” Petryshyn says.
First Impressions of the University of South Carolina
Petryshyn moved her family to South Carolina three months ago and she feels like a new international student on campus, experiencing everything for the first time.
“I think what impressed me the most was how beautiful this campus is,” Petryshyn says. She especially appreciates the lush green spaces all around campus, while still being in the heart of the city of Columbia. “To be able to walk around campus and breathe the fresh air has been incredible,” she added.
She also mentioned how the UofSC campus feels small, despite its large size. International students can experience the advantages of a fully equipped campus without ever feeling lost.
“This university has it all for the students,” she says. “So, no matter what you’re looking for, whatever the activity is, there’s something here for everybody.”
Services for New International Students at the University of South Carolina
Petryshyn’s team offers international students support throughout their time at UofSC. Even before arriving on campus, student services staff support students in preparing for their life on campus, from pre-arrival forms to housing forms and more.
Once students arrive on campus, the team helps with orientation and encourages students to take advantage of everything available to them as international students.
“What this team does is get you over that hurdle, so that they make you feel a part of the UofSC family,” Petryshyn says.
When classes officially begin, the IAP pivots to academic support, making sure international students are progressing smoothly and adjusting well to their new environment. Petryshyn mentioned the IAP’s tutors and language preparation classes academically prepare students to enter the next phase of their degree program studies.
“All the student support services [staff], assistants, and some graduate assistants as well, make sure that students feel supported from arrival all the way through our program,” she says.
Services extend to career development as well: Petryshyn mentions that there are many international companies in Columbia that have connections with faculty at UofSC for collaborations and research. Those connections create opportunities for students to work with those companies, both with internships during school and at jobs after graduation.
The First Step for International Students
If you are an international student hoping to come to the US, your on-time paperwork prep is key. Petryshyn strongly recommends that international students get their visa documentation — and interview appointment made — as early as possible.
“It is scary when you get close to the end and the semester’s almost ready to start and you’re being rushed,” she says, “so take care of things early.”
Being new to the campus herself, Petryshyn immediately felt supported and at home among the UofSC community.
“They have been so welcoming to me as a new person on campus,” Petryshyn says. “And that’s exactly what international students are going to feel.”