Helping Mac students develop a global perspective
By: Elizabeth DiEmanuele
Integrating international, intercultural and global dimensions into the student experience is a key pillar of McMaster University’s Global Engagement Strategy.
In alignment with the strategy, the Student Success Centre has expanded its International Student Services division and developed a new position to support student mobility and settlement of international students in the Hamilton community.
Lajipe Sanwoolu, who attended McMaster University as an international student and went on to work in Alberta, Manitoba and Nigeria, has returned to McMaster University in the role of Immigration and Mobility Advisor.
“International students contribute to Canadian society for the period they are here and it is important that we support their success in their education and career journey,” Sanwoolu shares. “A lot of students worry about immigration and a few years ago, I was that international student. Being a resource for international students is an amazing opportunity. I am very excited to be back at McMaster.”
As the Student Success Centre continues to expand its focus on global opportunities, Sanwoolu’s role will also support student mobility, both from an inbound and outbound perspective. “My role covers mobility for domestic and international students who want to gain global experience,” she says. “I can help them navigate the sometimes daunting process of immigration.” Appointments with her are open to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as post-doctorates and fellows.
For the Student Success Centre, this new position will also contribute to the important economic growth and Global Engagement Strategy for the City of Hamilton. By working with local employers to educate and assist in the process of hiring international students Sanwoolu will help create more opportunities and pathways to employment for our international students both during the academic year and post grad.
“These initiatives foster a global mindset among our students and employers. It’s about contributing to both local and global economies,” says Gina Robinson, associate dean of Student Affairs and director of the Student Success Centre. “We support students in making those global connections both in Hamilton and the world. Students choose where they want to live to make their contribution – that means we have done our job.”
In addition to this new role, the Centre continues to apply a global lens to many of its services to provide students with the tools they need to become globally competitive in their job search.
“Students increasingly need to be internationally knowledgeable and inter-culturally competent,” explains Faith Ogunkoya, Global Experience Coordinator at the Student Success Centre. “Finding a meaningful and relevant global experience can be overwhelming or even difficult to find. Guidance can be crucial in finding, securing, applying and navigating the legal and professional steps involved. We are excited to be supporting students seeking research, volunteer, work, internships and all other global experience opportunities.”
Programs such as the McMaster Exchange Program, McCall MacBain Fellowships or the newly developed Global Experience Award all provide access to global experiences for students. As well, there are opportunities at McMaster for students to develop a global mindset, such as campus-wide initiatives like MacGlobal and International Education Week.
“These programs are about bringing the talent back to McMaster and Hamilton,” Ogunkoya adds. “These students come back with skills that can be shared with the community.”
Alyssa Lai, a McMaster graduate and Project and Communications Coordinator at The Socrates Project, says that her life has been enriched by her international experience.
“I’ve developed the capacity to see the world through different lenses and more importantly, to bridge gaps between divergent viewpoints,” she says. “You are in this unique position where you can integrate these experiences to form a broader, more empathetic view of the world and make change.”