Anirudh, an international student from India, is currently pursuing a master’s in computer science at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS). He is also Student Senator from the College of Health, Science & Technology. With a passion for supporting the international student community, he cofounded the Indian Student Organization (ISO) to help Indian students adjust to life at UIS and thrive on campus.
Establishing the UIS Indian Student Organization
Last year, Anirudh estimated there were around 350 international students at the University of Illinois Springfield, and almost 200 of them were from India. Wouldn’t it be great to have a group that was ready to welcome them, address common challenges, and help them get familiar with UIS campus life?
So, Anirudh and his community decided to form an official UIS organization to help the incoming Fall 2023 students, using their own experiences to ensure new students have a strong start.
To work toward these goals, they created the Indian Student Organization, which aims to simplify Indian students’ transition into campus life.
“We are the bridge between the UIS campus and the international students from India,” he said.
How the ISO Supports International Students
To begin, the ISO created a Telugu language YouTube channel, America Chudhama, where they upload videos and shorts covering everything that an Indian international student might need to know before coming to study at the University of Illinois Springfield.
Their first video walked future UIS students around every area of the campus — and was very well received. They also uploaded a video covering the Graduate Public Service Internship (GPSI) program, which allows UIS graduate students to get an internship and receive 75% of their tuition fees back.
“[It] is a big opportunity for international students,” Anirudh said. “I got selected for [the GPSI], and I thought many people have to know this, and if they know they’ll apply and give their best in the interview.”
The ISO also organizes events to make Indian students feel more at home, like putting together celebrations for cultural festivals like Holi, among other gatherings.
Running for Student Senator
In running for Student Senator for the College of Health, Science & Technology, Anirudh was motivated to address and solve challenges, especially those facing international students. Anirudh hoped to bring attention to unaddressed issues and make positive changes. He ran in a student election (which takes place every two semesters), and won the popular vote from both international and domestic students.
As a student senator, Anirudh said his role is separate from the ISO, as he is responsible for representing all international students, not just Indian students. But he noted the student government is able to bring up issues directly to the higher-ups at UIS, such as directors, which helps him address issues that students bring to the ISO’s attention. His efforts recently led to a key staffing update that provides a direct point of contact on campus for international students.
Balancing Responsibilities at UIS
Despite juggling his responsibilities as a student senator, his work for the Indian Student Organization, and his ongoing internship with GPSI at the Department of Employment Security, Anirudh says that he does not have any issues balancing his workload with studying for his master’s in computer science.
Back in India, he recalls having to learn seven subjects per semester, which was significantly more than the three subjects per semester required at UIS. He also noted that as a GPSI student, he only needs to take two subjects.
“So, from taking seven subjects in India to balancing my work with just two subjects here, it’s easier,” he said.
Anirudh’s Advice for Future UIS Students
When it comes to studying abroad, Anirudh emphasizes the importance of stepping outside of one’s comfort zone and reaching out to other communities. He advises students to become more familiar with learning from new people and cultures.
“Don’t be limited to only your community; start expanding. Explore new people [and] learn [about] their culture,” he said.
He also advises international students to seek out their school’s student government organization to make positive campus changes. “Every university has [its] own student government, [and] they are [there] to help the students,” he said.
As for studying at UIS, Anirudh appreciates how Springfield, the Illinois state capital, is a small city that’s rich with extensive history and culture — and that the UIS campus is also relatively small, but beautiful and well-equipped with modern facilities. If international students crave a big-city getaway, Chicago, one of the largest cities in the US, is just a three-hour train ride away.
Anirudh, the Indian Student Organization, and UIS’ student government are dedicated to making the University of Illinois Springfield into a welcoming and supportive campus for all international students. With amazing academic programs and robust internship opportunities, UIS wants to give you the tools to make a real difference.
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