International Undergraduate Student Profiles

Faeza Ashraf, Biology (Canada)

Faeza is currently a second-year student working towards her bachelor's degree in Biology with a minor in Arabic and Islamic Studies. While her parents are originally from Karachi, Pakistan, Faeza was born in Canada where she spent her first few years before moving to Kentucky at an early age. When it was time to decide where to attend university, Faeza knew she wanted to stay in the United States. “America is one of the best countries in the world for a high-quality education in the sciences, so though there was talk in my family about the possibility of me studying in Canada or Pakistan, I wanted nothing else but to work hard and see if I could stay here,'' she said. 
Faeza’s hard work ultimately paid off and she was drawn to begin her studies at UK not only because of the university’s well-developed science and research programs, but also due to the international diversity represented throughout campus. “I appreciated the diversity of UK; many students and even faculty have international backgrounds like myself, which makes me feel right at home,” she explained. 
Additionally, Faeza enjoys the various courses offered at UK that not only complement her biology studies but expand her way of thinking in various fields. “One of my favorite courses freshman year was Composition & Communication II with Professor Connors Manke," she said. "Almost every day we would have a philosophical discussion about a different topic, and it taught me that strong arguments and thoughts do not always need to be logical and scientific with verified experiments as evidence. Creating valid claims with both science and art as evidence was an experience that I was not entirely used to, but I grew to love deeply.”
Faeza hopes to attend medical school after graduation. “My dream is to become an emergency pediatric physician. And as a doctor, my dream is mainly to work in underprivileged communities, starting with the three countries that have made me the woman I am today.”  


Matt Barrett, Neuroscience (United Kingdom)

Matt is a fourth-year student from the United Kingdom and is studying Neuroscience at UK. "The highlight of my A&S career has been the ability to work wiht so many other talented individuals and gain hands-on experience in the field," Matt said. "And my favorite thing about UK is the sense of family and warmth it provides, from the students all the way to the staff."

Matt said that his family was influential in his decision to study in the United States. "I was looking to get an international experience as my mother did a year in the United States, and she said that the U.S. was a great place for education and to gain life experience," Matt explained. "I also wanted to join UK as it has great opportunities for STEM students alongside world-class professors and equipment."

Why did Matt decide to study neuroscience? 

"My grandmother had a rare form of MS that she had diagnosed when my mother was a teen. She had been wheelchair-bound all of my life, and thus growing up around her, I was naturally curious. As I grew older, my curiosity also grew, which eventually led me to neuroscience," Matt said.
After graduation, Matt is looking forward to venturing out into a field which is changing everyday and where he can hopefully make a difference in the lives of individuals.
While a student, Matt plays for UK's club rugby team, which has won the conference title two years in a row and was ranked #4 in the nation in 2018. He graduated from The John Roan School in Greenwich, England, where he won several Jack Petchey awards as well as a third-place "Speak Out" award in a speech competition. 
Pedro Fonseca, History and Journalisam (Brazil)

Born in Bello Horizonte, Brazil, Pedro is not only a second-year student at the University of Kentucky and a recipient of the prestigious International Ambassador Scholarship, but he is currently double-majoring in both Journalism and History. “I came to the U.S. looking for a better education and a chance to grow away from home," Pedro said, reflecting on why he left Brazil and started his academic journey as part of the Wildcat family.

Pedro's passion for history was present in his life since his early years of high school. His interest in Journalism began when he got involved in writing for his schools newspaper as part of a Model United Nations project initiative. Nevertheless, Pedro ́s interests extend far beyond the classrooms and books as he is part of the International Student Leadership Team and takes part in various Latino Student Union meetings. 
As for future career opportunities, Pedro is looking forward to creating his own path with the education he receives at UK. “I hope to bring my two majors together as a full time job,” he explained. We can't wait to see what great projects and initiatives Pedro has in store for all of us at UK and beyond!
Alyson Galvan Lara, Neurosciencce and Psychology (Mexico)
Alyson is originally from Queretaro, Mexico and is currently a second-year student majoring in Neuroscience (pre-med track) with a minor in Psychology. Alyson was always drawn to study in the United States because of the level and international recognition of its educational system, “The USA is a very recognized country for having a very good academic level, so when the opportunity of studying in the USA came to me, I did not doubt in taking the chance,” she said.
When Alyson was looking at universities, she immediately gravitated to UK after visiting its campus and meeting its alumni and faculty. “I would say I chose UK because I fell in love with the campus, its people, and the city itself," she said. "The thing I like the most is that there is a lot of nature, no matter where I look I will always see at least one tree.”
But from where did her passion for medicine spark?
“I have always wanted to be a doctor and not long ago I got the idea that I would like to be a neurosurgeon, so when I saw UK has a major in Neuroscience I was really excited, because that major does not exist in my country, it only exists as a master's degree," Alyson said.
Aditionally, Alyson is involved in a number of academic and recreational student organizations and clubs. “I have been part of NeuroCATS since I started my life at UK and it has been one of my best experiences. I also enjoy being part of the Japanese Club and the Latino Student Union since I get to interact with a lot of people from different countries and cultures." For her future, Alyson hopes to continue her career path at UK until she becomes a doctor and puts her passion to practice! 
Alvaro Fransisco Gonzalez Elias, U.S. Culture & Business Practices (Peru)
Born in Lima, Peru and a double honors graduate from the Broward College International program, Alvaro is in his first semester as a transfer student at UK. He is majoring in U.S. Culture and Business Practices with a minor in International Business. Alvaro always dreamed of studying in the United States not only for its internationally-recognized education, but also because he spent most of his summers in Washington D.C immersed in American college life. “As a young kid, I was always in awe of American universities facilities, libraries, activities and resources that were at the disposal of their students,” he said. “Thus, it became my goal to work hard all throughout school to one day become one of those full-time students and enjoy a first-class education."
Alvaro´s childhood goal led him to the University of Kentucky and he couldn’t have asked for a better home to finish his four-year education. “I chose UK not only because it is a nationally and internationally-recognized institution, but because of their continuous commitment to grow and diversify their international community," he said. "From the day I applied to my first months on campus, they have always been by my side guiding me and looking out for my best interests.”
Even in his short time at UK, Alvaro has taken advantage of opportunities and became involved in various organizations and jobs around campus. As a recipient of the International Ambassador Scholarship, Alvaro is involved in recruitment processes of the UK International Center that aim to bring more international students to campus. Additionally, Alvaro is part of the International Village Living and Learning Program, where he attends multicultural activities with students from over 15 countries. He is currently working as a student assistant for the College of Arts and Sciences in their globalization initiatives and international recruitment in Latin America. 
In the future, Alvaro hopes to become an international business ambassador who can create and strengthen relationships between diverse organizations, businesses and communities of the United States and Latin America. “Ever since I was young, I was taught that diversity must not only be respected and honored, but used as our most valuable and abundant asset,” he said. “I am convinced that if people use their diversity to their advantage, they will be able to not only better themselves but also the circumstances around them.”  

Ines Elena Martin, Psychology (Spain)
Ines graduated in May 2019 with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Communications. She began graduate studies in Psychology at Eastern Kentucky University in August 2019. Ines hopes to become a psychology professor after attending graduate school.
Ines was an exchange student in Kentucky during high school which is how she ended up applying to UK! While a student, she worked in several psychology labs as well as served as an Assistant Resident Director in the student residence halls. She also served as an International Student Ambassador for UK's International Center.
"My favorite thing about UK is the beautiful campus we have and how nice everyone has been to me for the past four years," she said.

Ines grew up in Colmenar Viejo, Spain and attended Colegio Peñal Vento in Madrid. 

Twincy Modi, Biology (India/Qatar)
Originally from Gujarat, India, Twincy grew up in Qatar and is now a senior at UK majoring in Biology and minoring in Microbiology. She is currently working for Dr. Beth Garvy's lab as a student research assistant, investigating infection mechanisms of Pneumocystis Carinii in immunocompromised individuals. She is also serving as peer tutor for CARES.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed all my Biology and Chemistry labs at UK - gel electrophoresis, cell fractionation, DNA isolation, restriction endonuclease mapping, atomic spectroscopy, frog and mouse dissections and numerous other experiments have been the highlight of my time as a Biology undergrad," Twincy said. "I recall swabbing door handles and shoe soles for a microbiology project and have my phone filled with pictures of novel and interesting bacteria from that project. Understanding biology has helped me live a healthier life myself as well as improve the lives of others."
She hopes to attend dental school after graduating from UK in May 2020 and is currently preparing for her DAT exam. "My tip for anyone planning to be a healthcare professional would be to start planning early," Twince said. "Start building relations with your professors and doctors (for letters of recommendations and shadowing opportunities) and gain volunteering and community service experience. Also, don't forget to document everything you do. You WILL need it for your professional school applications."
While attending UK, Twincy has been involved with Kentucky Karna, a Bollywood fusion dance club, and MAPS, the Multicultural Association for Pre-Health Students, and the International Student Ambassador program at UK's International Center. Twincy attended Al Khor International school in Al Khor, Qatar and studied the rigorous CBSE curriculum - the Central Board of Secondary Education system of India.

Tingshan Pan, Mathematics (China)
Tingshan transferred to UK from Shanghai Institute of Technology (SIT). She liked the academic environment of the United States and transferred via a cooperative agreement between UK and SIT. She is majoring in Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science.
During her time at UK, Tingshan has served as a orientation leader and is a member of UK's Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Association for Women in Mathematics and Physics (AWMP). Tingshan said that she applied to many positions on campus, and once hired as an orientation leader, she worked hard to avoid mistakes. "Gradually, I integrated into the crowd of student workers," she said. "Overcoming the language barriers and culture shock was not only a challenge but also an unforgettable experience for me."
After graduation, Tingshan hopes to work for a software company after pursuing a master's in Computer Science. "Because I believe math is a foundation for any other scientific knowledge, whatever research direction I choose in the future will definitely be based on math," she said. 
Weilun Su, Foreign Language & International Economics (Japanese) / Economics (China) 
Weilun is originally from the Shandong province of China where he studied at the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) before transferring as a full-time student to the University of Kentucky. Ever since he was young, Weilun’s passion was in the world of business. “I like business, my ideal is to be a businessman,” he explains, which is why he decided to take on the challenge of double majoring in both Foreign Language & International Economics (Japanese) and Economics at UK. 
This challenge, nevertheless, seems to have been a wise decision by Weilun as he has made the Dean's list twice so far. He has also been involved in a number of initiatives and organizations on campus. “I joined the CSSA - theChinese student group in UK," he said. "I joined the basketball club, and sometimes I join in A&S college activities. This makes my life be more interesting.” Weilun also has a new-found love in the sports culture and city life of Lexington. “I love UK, I am a basketball fan and UK has the best basketball team among U.S. colleges … and Lexington is a great city, full of passion and enthusiasm.” 
However, Weliun’s desire to continue his education in the United States goes far beyond just being in one of the business hubs of the world. He wants to take advantage of its internationally recognized education system and research opportunities. “The United States is one of the countries with the highest quality of education in the world … It broadens horizons … The international environment enables students to have stronger international competitiveness after graduation.”  
Shilan Wei, Psychology (China)
Shilan is a third-year student from Guangzhou, China who is majoring in Psychology. She wanted to study in the United States to broaden her horizons and was especially attracted by the high level of cultural diversity present in the U.S. She transferred to UK from Beijing Institute of Technology - Zhuhai where she was studying international business.
Shilan cites the helpfulness of faculty and staff as one of her reasons for choosing to study at UK. "The professors who helped me apply ... and Megan Koshurba, they are all very kind and feel responsible for us," she said. "It made me feel that the university is trustworthy when I was considering it."
Shilan changed her major to Psychology after taking a Psy100 course at UK and finding it interesting. She has also been involved in a research lab studying the behavior of pigeons. "Every moment has been vital and interesting since I've been at UK," Shilan said. 
She hopes to apply for a master's in Psychology once she finishes her undergraduate degree. 
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