Li, A.T. and Hanh, H. N. arrived in the US with a mix of excitement, anxiety and limited English. They’ve come a long way from their home in Vietnam to study at Lewis University.
At their campus 35 miles southwest of the world-class city of Chicago, Li and Hanh strive to do well in their classes and set themselves up for successful careers in the country. Hanh, a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science student, and Li, a Bachelor of Science in Data Science student believe their education in the US has opened doors to in-demand careers they never expected.
“The salary is so much higher here [compared to Vietnam]. Yes, it is more expensive to live and study here, but my salary is beyond what I could have imagined. Jobs in Data Science are in high demand and getting a job was quite easy because of the company connections that Lewis offered me,” shares Li’23 who is set to be the first in her family to study in the US and the first to earn a bachelor’s degree.
International students like Hanh and Li go on to have impressive graduate outcomes. Not only are STEM students allowed to stay in the country for post-study work opportunities, but their career prospects are also attractive.
Lewis University is the eighth largest private, not-for-profit university in Illinois. It is home to 6,500 undergraduate and graduate students who have access to internship opportunities and faculty connections with global companies within the Fortune 500.
Stats show how employable Lewis University grads are. Nearly nine in 10 (89%) of students from the class of 2020 were employed or attending graduate school. Some of the companies they can be found at include American Express, Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and many more. It’s little wonder why this institution has been ranked among the top Midwest Regional Universities (US News & World Report) and one of the best colleges in the Midwest (The Princeton Review).
These numbers are proof that investing in a US education leads to lucrative careers with attractive compensation. Despite having one more year left of her studies to complete, Li has already completed a part-time internship and has also been offered a full-time job upon graduation under the same company.
“My salary for the internship is covering the costs of tuition, and I still have extra spending money,” she says. “My parents are happy that they no longer need to provide for me financially while I’m in the US.” Li plans to work in the US for the next three years to maximise her opportunity under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme. “My parents invested a lot of money to send me here and I am happy to start giving back to them,” she says.
The same can be said for Hanh who graduated in May. He immediately started his OPT programme. The courses at Lewis University fueled his interest and passion for technology.
“My favourite class was Programming Techniques because I got to use software development tools. I was able to start writing computer code and testing the knowledge I had learned previously,” shares Hanh.
The skills he picked up in class are being applied directly in his software development job. Because of his chosen programme in STEM, he is able to work in the US for up to three years with the possibility of a one-year extension.
Hanh credits his ability to work in a diverse work environment thanks to Lewis University’s large international student population, saying it was “a mirror to my courses at Lewis University.” The exposure helped him become familiar with people from different cultures and varying languages.
As a hub for international students, Lewis University readily provides free English language tutoring and services to those whose English isn’t their first language. Some of the services offered at the Writing Centre include reviewing essays and projects, correcting language mistakes or even scheduling conversations to help improve communications skills.
“I am much more confident now, especially being in a new country, living in a new culture, and using a second language. I know that if I can graduate from Lewis University, I can do anything,” says Li.
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