New Program Enhances Saint Leo’s Appeal Internationally

October 29, 2013

As Saint Leo University continues to advance its international efforts and attract students from around the world, the School of Arts and Sciences has created a new program to help international students at University Campus adapt and excel. The philosophy at Saint Leo University is that enrolling international students provides educational benefits to all students by broadening the community of learners and imparting greater cultural awareness to all.

The new initiative, called the Bridge Program, provides students with the tools to acclimate to American culture. It specifically assists them in adjusting to academics in an English-language setting and to the university social setting, including student organizations. The Bridge Program is led by Dr. Iona Sarieva, who holds a doctorate in second-language acquisition and instructional technology. She is assisted by additional faculty who are also experts in the needs of second-language learners.

Fifty-eight students from Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, Brazil, and Bangladesh participated in the program during the 2012-2013 academic year. They took newly developed courses applicable to degree programs as general electives, in addition to participating in social events. Students surveyed expressed surprise at how much work was required of them in the program, but were pleased with the results. Specifically, they said they emerged feeling more confident in their language skills and understanding of academic course requirements, and felt they improved their time-management and organizational skills. Also, they felt more at ease in American culture. One student wrote that the “Bridge Program is perfect solution for students who just came to U.S. I am absolutely satisfied ... I am thankful to the university for the opportunity to prepare for my future studies.”

In the current year, Dr. Sarieva reported that Saint Leo has 24 students enrolled in the Bridge Program. The students participating are from Germany, Honduras, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and Venezuela. The philosophy at Saint Leo University is that enrolling international students provides educational benefits to all students by broadening the community of learners and imparting greater cultural awareness to all.