Second-year students see campus for the first time

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MILWAUKEE – A student’s dream of coming to his university’s campus for the first time is not being fulfilled for underclassed students across the country due to the pandemic.

The same goes for 19-year-old Danayt Raied. She is in second year at Alverne College and an international student from Ethiopia. Although this is Danayt’s second year at the higher education institution, it is his first year on campus in person.

“It’s crazy,” she said, still baffled that she could finally set foot on her college campus. “I really like being here.”

Mixed with the general joy she feels, there are also periods of sadness. He misses his family. Her parents and brother still live in Ethiopia, eight hours from the jet lag. What keeps her going are their daily chats on FaceTime.

“My dad and I work out together in the morning on FaceTime,” she said. “Well, it’s morning for me.”

Danayt has a close bond with her family, which made it even more difficult for her to move to Wisconsin at just 16 years old. She moved away on her own, after her parents urged her to seek a better future.

“I was looking for boarding schools in the United States and came across Youth Initiative, which is in a very small town,” she said. “It’s a small school and I’ve grown up in the city my whole life, so I was ready for a change.”

Youth initiative is the high school Danayt attended in Virocqua, Wisconsin. She eventually moved in with a foster family. It’s the same family she lived with, while taking classes virtually during the pandemic in her freshman year at Alverno College.

“It was really stressful at first, but I was surrounded by really nice and supportive people,” she said. “It made it easier for me.”

Danayt is studying to be a nurse, a dream she knew would only come true outside of her home country.

“University works differently in Ethiopia because you can’t choose your specialty,” she explained. “You take the national exam and based on your score the government decides which subject you should study and what you are good at. “

Danayt said she looks forward to pursuing this new adventure in the college of her dreams, an adventure she has traveled over 7,000 miles to make it happen.

“It’s really good to be on campus in person,” she said.

Just under 13,000 international students attended a college in Wisconsin in the 2020 academic year. The data is down slightly from 2019 and 2018. The same data shows that 42% of international students in the State come from China.

UW-Madison far exceeds all other schools in the state when it comes to the number of international students, according to The Institute of International Education.


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