Study Missouri Event Brings Together Students from Across the State

Founded in 2009, the Study Missouri consortium has been working to make Missouri a preferred study destination for international students. One of the important parts of Study Missouri is the activities and programming it promotes, including its main event: International Education Day at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.

Attendees toured the Missouri State Capitol Building.

Held every April, International Education Day brings together international students and study abroad students from Study Missouri’s member institutions. They spend the day making new friends, listening to international students share the impact their time in Missouri has had on them, and learning more about Missouri’s history and state government.

“What I love the most about this annual event is the opportunity to highlight how expansive and supportive the international education community is in Missouri,” shares Daezia Smith, Leadership Programs Specialist in the International Leadership and Training Center at Missouri State University. As one of the event organizers, Daezia connects deeply to the importance of IE Day adding, “Being able to provide moments of significant value to help these students not only see their worth and importance with international education but also provide them with connection opportunities to other students and potential job opportunities is everything to me.”

Due to the pandemic, this year’s event, which attracted about 100 attendees, was the first in-person IE Day since 2019. Prior to the pandemic, IE Day attracted 300 to 400 participants.

“This was a good step in rebuilding the high engagement of past events, as well as strengthening the international community in Missouri, which is a pillar of Study Missouri’s mission,” says Bob Specking, a Senior Account Executive with Via who serves on the Study Missouri planning committee and is the Study Missouri Education Abroad Committee lead.

International Students Share their Experience

International students shared their various experiences studying in Missouri.

During this year’s International Education Day, held April 13, international students presented on how they benefited from their study abroad time in Missouri, which is in the Midwest and, like Tennessee, boarded by eight states. One of the presenters was Niyati Sethi, an Indian national who graduates in May with an M.A. in Religious Studies and Public Policy from Missouri State University.

Like many international students who come to the United States, Niyati hoped to find work here after graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Economics from MSU. But her May 2020 graduation coincided with the start of the pandemic. With the economy frozen and little chance of finding a job, Niyati continued straight into her master’s program. That included taking on a 10-month role as director of diversity and inclusion at Missouri State.

Since August 2020, Niyati has been a graduate assistant in MSU’s International Programs office. Since August 2021 she has served as a Youth Diplomats Education Fellow with Global Ties KC. In the latter role, she works with high school students in the Youth Diplomats Institute to help them grow skills in cultural competence, international awareness and professional development, among other duties.

IE Day Features Photo Contest

During IE Day, Tuwilika Elias was named the grand-prize winner of the IE Day’s annual photo contest. Tuwilika, a Fulbright Scholar who came to the U.S. in March 2021 from the southwestern African nation of Namibia, will graduate in 2023 with a master’s in public affairs from the University of Missouri at Columbia.

Tuwilika Elias posing in front of the Thomas Jefferson statue at the Missouri State Capitol.

In February, Tuwilika spoke to the Missouri General Assembly in February in support of the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, which bans race-based hair discrimination and was passed by the House in March. Her winning photo was of her posed in front of the Thomas Jefferson statue at the Missouri State Capitol.

“Passing the CROWN Act might not mean a lot to some people but it surely is important to many Black people,” Tuwilika said in describing her photo. “My natural hair is my identity, a CROWN I can’t see not having or wearing how and whenever I want. Nobody should be denied the right to educational and employment opportunities because of their hair texture or style.”

Via values our partnership with Study Missouri and its efforts, like International Education Day.

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