Known as the “fairy godmother” of international students, Marina Pereira, managing director of LSU Global at Louisiana State University, makes it her professional purpose to serve and mentor students.
Read on to learn more about Pereira’s story and the benefits for international students enrolling at Louisiana State University.
Marina’s Journey to LSU Global
Originally from Moscow, Russia, Pereira has first-hand insight into what it is like to be an international student. She came to the US in 1992 to study at the University of Idaho, and recalls, “I distinctly remember the first days and weeks filled with confusion, frustration, and anxiety.”
She had so many questions, with no one to turn to for the answers. “I was so frustrated in the first few weeks of my college experience that I was convinced that I made a mistake by coming to the US to study and considered going home,” she said. “This experience has guided my philosophy in making sure that our students have a much better first impression when they arrive and if there is anything they do not understand, we are here with all the answers.”
Pereira has worked at LSU for more than 20 years and is “very proud to have welcomed hundreds of students to our campus, and to have attended many graduations. It gives me immense satisfaction to see our students succeed — and what better [reason] to celebrate than to cheer them on with their families as they don the graduation cap and gown and become LSU alumni!”
When asked what she does for a living, Pereira says, “I get to meet and get to know amazing people from all over the world, every single day.”
The LSU Global International Student Experience at Louisiana State University
Located in the heart of Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University boasts 330 fields of study and 70 majors.
“LSU is the embodiment of [the] quintessential American college experience for any student,” said Pereira. With about 32,000 students, “the campus is not too big or too small, and students can experience every flavor of major, club, activity, diversity of student body, [and] Nobel-prize winning professors, right here.” She also noted that Forbes ranks the school a “best value for a Top Tier institution.”
One of the best things about studying in Baton Rouge — aside from top-ranked academics and cinematic backdrops (LSU was the location of Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect II) — is the diversity of food, according to Pereira.
“The food in Louisiana is the best in the US,” she said. “It is a product of an amazing mix of different cultures that have settled in Louisiana over the past few hundred years — from the French, Spanish, African, Creole, Cajun, Asian, and Native American cultures come an eclectic and world-famous cuisine that is a delight in every way.”
Students don’t, however, even need to leave campus to experience good food. “LSU has no less than 25 food locations on campus, and the two main cafeterias always serve a variety of options, including a Louisiana station, a vegan station, a salad bar, a pizza bar, a grilled food station, and ice cream made right here,” said Pereira.
Aside from extensive dining options, international students can also expect to be well taken care of by LSU Global, as Pereira notes that “our entire job consists of making sure that students are happy, well-adjusted, and successful in the classroom and outside of it. And that is why students do so well after going through the LSU Global program in their first year — they have a real advantage over other first-year students on campus because they have the LSU Global team to help them navigate the transition to American college life.”
What International Students Find Upon Arrival at LSU
Starting a new school can be intimidating, but LSU Global tries to ease the transition. Pereira said, “the day the students arrive on campus, the LSU Global team is here to greet them. We immediately surround the student with care by helping them check in to the university with all the necessary documents (such as immunization forms, immigration documents, official transcripts, and any outstanding payment issues) and we transport the student to their on-campus housing with a welcome basket that contains everything they might need in the first few days (pillow, blanket, bed sheets, towels, kitchen utensils, snacks, etc.).”
“We want to be sure that students are comfortable from day one and understand the flow of orientation week, course scheduling, and beyond. Once classes start, we regularly meet with all our students to check on their progress and offer support, such as counseling, advising, [and] tutoring as needed,” Pereira said.
The LSU Family
Being so far away from home can be difficult and disorienting, but thanks to Pereira’s own experiences as a former international student, she knows just how to make every international student feel welcome and capable in their new surroundings.
“While joining a university like LSU can be daunting, the LSU Global team and office is there to make the campus feel like home. From the day you [set] foot on campus, our team will embrace you with care and support that you would expect from your family,” said Pereira.
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