Meet Salman, Fall 2021 UofSC International Student Achievement Award Winner

University of South Carolina
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By Deshan Mendis
Last updated on February 28, 2023

Salman, a Saudi student at the University of South Carolina, was this fall’s UofSC International Student Achievement Award recipient! Learn about his journey to South Carolina and what comes next.

SalmanSaudi ArabiaUniversity of South Carolina

Salman at his graduation, in graduation cloak and hat

The University of South Carolina (UofSC) has awarded Salman, a mechanical engineering major from Saudi Arabia, the Fall 2021 UofSC International Student Achievement Award! Check out how he made the journey from Saudi Arabia to UofSC, his many achievements and activities on campus, the support he received from the International Accelerator Program — and what comes next.

From Saudi Arabia to the US

After leaving his home in Saudi Arabia, Salman first spent time in Miami before moving to Columbia to attend UofSC.  

Salman chose UofSC for the remarkable reputation of its community and the many opportunities available to international students via the International Accelerator Program (IAP).

“When I was staying in Miami, I had the option of going to South Carolina and other universities, but I heard that South Carolina has a really great community and I heard about the International Accelerator Program, which definitely was an advantage for me,” he says.

The University of South Carolina offers international students more than 100 undergraduate degree choices, with many options for major-minor combinations and specialized concentrations. For graduate students, there are a variety of master’s programs with fast-track options to help international students complete their master’s degree at an accelerated pace. For Salman, this was a big plus.

“My major was mechanical engineering and I graduated this previous fall,” says Salman. “In the spring, I will start my master’s program in technology innovation and entrepreneurial engineering.” 

He has thrived in his classes, earning inclusion on the UofSC Dean’s Honor List. Beyond academic excellence, Salman always seeks to support other students with his positivity and professionalism — and key faculty and staff took notice. 

Earning the UofSC International Student Achievement Award

Created specifically for international students, the UofSC International Student Achievement Award recognizes outstanding achievements accomplished during a student’s time at the University of South Carolina. The award is given to one undergraduate and one graduate student each semester. Salman received his award for his many contributions as a leader, a volunteer, and for his overall positive personality and outstanding desire to help others. 

“After I finished my first year, they gave me an opportunity to become a peer leader as a co-instructor and it was an amazing experience,” says Salman. “I had to deal with many students and take care of them, and it was an amazing boost to my leadership skills.” 

Salman’s experience with the IAP inspired him to become a program ambassador, and it also gave him the opportunity to learn and grow as a mentor to other students.

“I became a student ambassador for IAP, [along with] four other ambassadors, which meant that we would represent the international students, and that opportunity was also [from] IAP,” he says. “Lastly, I became a student mentor … I received mentoring training from IAP and then they assigned me as student mentor. I did that for one semester.”

Ongoing Support from the International Accelerator Program 

In his experiences with the IAP, Salman notes how the program went above and beyond during his first-year — and even longer, offering guidance and assistance throughout his entire time at UofSC. 

“During your first year, IAP takes care of you 100%,” he says. “They try to do whatever they can to boost you, to support you. Even if you have struggles with academics, your social life, or [other] things that you need in your life, IAP supports you. They kept supporting me even after I finished my first year — they told us that IAP would stay with us for just one year, but honestly, they kept helping me and kept supporting me.”

The IAP at UofSC is designed to provide international students transferring to the US with a streamlined process for becoming familiar with their new environment and helping them thrive academically and personally. The program offers exclusive services such as English language support, airport transfers to campus, support in choosing the right classes, academic guidance, career development activities, and more. 

What Is Next for Salman at the University of South Carolina?

Salman has enrolled for his master’s degree at UofSC, and is looking forward to completing his program ahead of schedule, thanks to an accelerated option. 

“If I go to another university, I might do my master’s in two years. Because the University of South Carolina gives you the chance to take a few master’s courses [as an undergraduate], my master’s right now is hopefully going to be [completed in] one year,” he says.

After graduation, Salman hopes to travel and pursue his PhD in Europe, or return to Saudi Arabia to start his career.

Salman’s Advice for International Students

When it comes to choosing the right university, Salman knows it can be a difficult choice for international students, and he recommends considering the whole experience.

“My advice to international students is that when they pick a university, they need to think about many aspects. Not just the university itself. They need to think about how they are going to live,” says Salman. 

If you are not sure which universities to consider or how to determine which school is right for you, remember that Shorelight is always ready to support you. Your advisor will offer expert advice and assistance from application all the way to your graduation, with services such as F-1 visa support, academic guidance, English-language support, and much more. 

During the college research process, Salman says that international students should find out: “Are they going to be supported all the time? Are there many opportunities for international students at the university?” 

Getting a sense of campus life in advance — and whether it’s a welcoming and supportive place for international students — can make all the difference.

Reach out to a Shorelight advisor today and begin your journey in the US >