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Saint Leo 360 Podcast

Episode 27: A Roundtable with 3 International Students Pursuing Graduate Degrees

Posted by Greg Lindberg on January 15, 2021
SL360-Ep-27-International-Students-in-Grad-Programs

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Speaker 1:
Saint Leo 360, a 360 degree overview of the Saint Leo University community.

Greg Lindberg:
Welcome to another episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast. This is your host here with you, Greg Lindberg, as usual on this episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast. We are visiting with three of our international graduate students here at Saint Leo University. And we certainly have a nice, large contingency of students from all around the globe who attend our university and certainly from many interesting backgrounds and just everything. It's certainly wonderful to have such a variety of students, and that's our goal today, is to showcase three of those students here on this podcast. So first off, I would like to welcome Andrada Alston Gordan. Welcome to the podcast, Andrada.

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Thank you for having me.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. Then I'd like to introduce Erik Hoffmann. Erik, how's it going today?

Erik Hoffmann:
Going well, Greg. Thanks for having me.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure thing. And last, but certainly not least, we have Ilia Iarmanov. Ilia, how are you?

Ilia Iarmanov:
Hi, how are you? Hi, everyone. Well, thanks for having me. I'm very glad to be here with you today.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely appreciate all of your time and willingness to do this for us. So let's get started with Andrada on the first question here. If you could just tell me, Andrada, your age, where you are from originally, and then any prior education that you had before coming to Saint Leo University.

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Sure. I am 25 years old. I am from Romania, and that is also where I grew up. I first came to America when I was 18 for my undergrad, and then I really wanted to stay here. And education, I did high school in Romania, and then my first three years I was at Oral Roberts in Oklahoma, and then for my senior and now masters, I came to Saint Leo.

Greg Lindberg:
I see. Very cool. And then let's turn to Erik. Talk to me about your background, Erik.

Erik Hoffmann:
Yeah, so I'm 33 years old. I'm originally from Australia. I grew up in a city in Brisbane, so pretty warm, kind of similar weather to where I am now in Tampa. And back then I was going a bachelor's and applied media, so that's kind of audio, video, a little bit of creative writing kind of thing. And in Australia, a bachelor's degree is actually three years, so to come here and apply for a master's degree at Saint Leo, I had to do a fourth year down there as well. And so a lot of my background is mainly just creative kind of work for the most part. And I was definitely looking to take that to the next level coming here to Florida. I was also studying in Wisconsin prior. That was with a graphic design degree, an associate degree, was to kind of expand my skills a bit. And yeah, I've been here since around 2015, and look forward to my time currently and in the future.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice already. And then let's go to Ilia. Talk to me about your background, Ilia.

Ilia Iarmanov:
Yeah, I'm a little bit older than the guys. So I'm 39 years old. I grew up in Moscow, Russia, so this is where I'm originally from. I got my bachelor's in economics from the State University of Management in Moscow. So I graduated more than 10 years ago. Well, since that, I've worked for different companies in Moscow, so this is my first time... I've never started abroad before. This is my first time I'm starting abroad and here in the United States. We came over here in 2019, so in late July. Well, I say why because I'm here with my family, with my wife and two adorable daughters, who are for and two years old. So that's basically it.

Greg Lindberg:
Very nice.

Ilia Iarmanov:
And I can't wait to move on, yeah, like Erik said.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure thing, yep. Let's dive a little more into how you guys found out about Saint Leo and ultimately made that decision to enroll with us. And let's start with, let's go to Erik first on this one.

Erik Hoffmann:
Yeah, so with finding Saint Leo, I feel like the other international students can also identify with this, but things that are costly, and especially education in the US, it definitely costs a lot to sort of do things like the initial moving, board or food, tuition of course. And so when I was looking for a university, I was definitely looking for something that was good value and something that could offer good education, but at the same time bang for your buck. And Saint Leo was one of the universities that, although it's not more placed near a larger city... It's in Dade City, Saint Leo area, north of Tampa. Value wise, it was just great value to enroll with them. And of course, once I joined and saw the programs, the different offerings, it was exactly what I really wanted with good reputation as well. And of course, the Floridian weather, moving from Wisconsin south to Florida, that's kind of the final thing that made it like yeah, I think I've had enough snow for a while, and that made the move all the more easier to make.

Greg Lindberg:
Exactly. Makes sense. And then, Andrada, how about you?

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Well, my choice for coming here was a little bit different. As I said, I was at Oral Roberts in the beginning, and then I was also not very happy there. And how the situation was, I was kind of forced to transfer. I had a few surgeries because I was also on the tennis team, so that was pretty much my main focus for coming in America. And then it was kind of late to start applying for schools at that time, so I just emailed every single school in America, like D1, D2, and D3. And no one really wanted to accept me because I was a senior. I was about to have another surgery in like two weeks after I was talking with the coaches. So they were like, "You're kind of a risk. I don't know how you can help our team." But coach Chad, he apparently knew me from the first time when I wanted to come to America. But at that moment, he couldn't offer me a full scholarship, so I had to go with the other one. By this time, he knew me. He saw me playing, so he gave me a chance, and I actually had a very great year, my senior year. I had an amazing record, so I can just be very thankful to him that he gave me a chance, and I had an amazing year.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice. Very cool. Ilia, talk to me about how you found Saint Leo and decided to enroll.

Ilia Iarmanov:
Yeah, occasionally, like I said, I've worked for different companies, but at some point, I just realized that I need to move on. I just want a better life. So, well, in order to get a better life, you obviously need to get a better education. And I learned about the US educational fair that was held in Moscow in February 2019. I think it was February or January. It was in the winter. And I was one of the visitors of this fair. Well, Saint Leo was among the other US schools at this fair. So Saint Leo was present at this fair and was one of the participants. And I don't know why, but for some reason Saint Leo's booth was the first that I approached to. And Saint Leo's representative was very friendly and very excited about presenting her school to other patrons. And we started talking, and she told us a lot of good things about the school and the available business programs, and I liked it very much.

Ilia Iarmanov:
Well, she gave me her email, and I sent a message the next day to her, and she instantly responded to me. Well, that was a sign. And by the name, I'm very thankful to Maribeth Stevens. That was her was presenting the Saint Leo University in Moscow at that time. Well, she was the first, well, Saint Leo staff representative I met. So it happened in February 2019, and I met Maribeth Stevens, and I'm thankful to her for this opportunity.

Greg Lindberg:
That's great. So really that first impression, it sounds like just sold it very well. Nice. Okay, let's move onto the next topic here. And in terms of coming to the United States, obviously the three of you have each come from different countries around the world. And I'm curious what was it like initially coming to the US, moving here, living here, assimilating in American culture, and perhaps if you could talk about even the differences between American culture versus where you guys are from. And let's start with Andrada on that one.

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Well, I can definitely say it was pretty tough in the beginning. Then I started to get used to it. There are still things that I discover now, and I say to myself I can't believe that after six years, I still find stuff that I'm like wow, I didn't even know this. I had no idea how to react. But I think one of the things that I still struggle with a little bit is the food. It's a different for me still. I can't really find the same flavors that I want. Restaurants are different, but I found places and ways to make what I want. The people, of course, there's a huge difference in the way they approach you. They're definitely more friendly here. I have a few funny stories when I came. And my country, we kiss on both cheeks, so in the beginning when I was meeting people, I was going to kiss down. They were like, "What are you doing?" They were looking so surprised. And I was like, "I'm being friendly." They were like, "That's too friendly." I was like, "Oh, I'm sorry."

Greg Lindberg:
That's funny.

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Yeah, and then I still see now that... I'm actually dating... Well, I'm married, so I'm not dating, well, whatever you call it. I'm married to an American guy. We definitely had some differences in the beginning, and it was all due to culture. We couldn't see eye to eye. I would tell him like, "look, that's how it is in my country. That's how I am." And yeah, it was a little tough, but I can say that if you want to stay in a place, you just get adjusted. You tell people how you feel and how they should maybe adjust also, or you just make the change yourself.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. Very interesting insight. And then Erik, how about you coming from Australia?

Erik Hoffmann:
Yeah, there are a lot of similarities obviously on the get-go. The fact that I speak English as my first language, that's straight away something that makes it a lot easier than a lot of students that may have a different language as their first language other than English. So that was one hurdle that was far easier. When I first moved to Wisconsin, I'd already done prior a lot of world travel. I'd traveled to the US before as well so I can't say it was too difficult. I feel like that a lot of the little differences Andrada was mentioning about, food or I don't know, maybe even in my case, there were things like words that I might use that Americans would not understand, and same thing in reverse, they're using a word that means something else. Only recently a few days ago, literally I was talking to someone, and I was talking about a cereal called Frosties. And they wondered what is that? I'm like, "It's the one with the mascot as the Tiger." And they said, "Oh, you mean Frosted Flakes." Like they're Frosties, aren't they? And they had to look it up, and sure enough, it's the same thing. It's called something different in Australia versus the US.

Erik Hoffmann:
And I felt like those kinds of situations, they've kind of made it a little fun, I guess, these little things I learn as I go, the laughs had and those differences. So I can't say it felt really too much of an issue in terms of assimilating. It's really kind of fascinating as well how you'll find the South versus the West versus the Midwest. Those are also culturally different in the US, which I've also found pretty amazing to discover on several road trips that I've been throughout this country. But to be honest, the whole assimilation process, it's been fun more than anything, for me at least.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure. Very interesting. And, Ilia, how about your experience?

Ilia Iarmanov:
Yeah, what Erik says is very funny and interesting for me too. So I know that there are differences in the language, even within the US, not like between the US and Australia or the United States and the United Kingdom, for example. And well, I love learning about those differences, and I love learning the language. So well, for me it was challenging and exciting at the same time because, well, like I said, I'm here not alone, with my family. And we came over in late July, and well, since that time, we have not left the country. So we've been staying for almost two years. Well, we love being here. Well, my older daughter goes to school here, and before COVID, we were spending free time at the beaches, on campus, at the zoo. Last Christmas, we went to Disney, and the kids were very excited, well, to meet Mickey and friends. Well, they were overexcited to see the fireworks at the end.

Ilia Iarmanov:
Well, however, due to the COVID, it became a heck of a problem, well, to go out, and now we have to spend more time at home, well, since we take this virus very seriously. But, well, it's not complicated for me to fit in. Well, I'm trying my best. And I love the country. I love Florida. So well, I think I'm good.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. Very cool. So let's dive a little further into the specific degree programs that you guys are and, what you've been studying. Let's start with Ilia on this one. Talk to me about your degree program and why you chose that program.

Ilia Iarmanov:
Yeah, I'm pursuing my MBA degree in business administration, so I was interested in business, and that's why I picked this program at Saint Leo. So I've worked for both private and public companies, but I figured out that the private sector is of greater interest to me, and I want to build on this. It is no doubt for me that the best business schools are here in the United States. Well, regardless of today's problems that are facing our countries, I did not have any issues in getting an entry visa for me and my family. And well, this MBA program helped me develop professional skills, gain better knowledge about business relation opportunities, learn more about business ethics and how important the ethical behavior really is. So I'm quite excited about this.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice. Yeah. How about Andrada? What program are you in? And how did you decide on that one?

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Well, I'm doing my master's in accounting. That's what I studied for undergrad as well. Initially I was still going to go with business, but I was going with international business, just because I thought I speak three or four language, that could help me. But then one summer I was looking for internships and jobs, and I saw there is almost nothing. Everything was financed in accounting, so I talked to some of the professors in my previous school, and they were telling me, "Look, if you're interested to stay in America, kind of your best two options would be finance and accounting just because it's such a high demand for those jobs." So I guess I kind of went into it, and also, not going to lie, pretty good money for accounting.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure, yep.

Andrada Alston Gordan:
And I can't say that I love it. As I said before, the reason for coming to America besides getting an education was to play tennis is college, gain some experience, and then go pro. But because of the surgeries, that didn't happen. So I'm still in between having a career in accounting or business or trying to be a tennis coach.

Greg Lindberg:
I see. Very interesting. And then, Erik, how about you?

Erik Hoffmann:
Yeah, so I'm doing the MBA program as well, with a focus and marketing right now, although originally when I did sign up, it was a focus in social media marketing. And I just chose to kind of expand that to marketing just because a traditional sense, it seemed to cover a lot more. I'm kind of interested in all those aspects with my prior degree, with more of a data design a multimedia background. I also felt shoehorned together with marketing when you're kind of advertising for a product. The same time, if I can kind of eliminate one of those a middle men and be someone who actually designs that marketing ad that goes out there as well as market it. I think it just makes it a lot more easier. Opportunities kind of goes as a whole. I enjoy that whole process as well, to kind of sell something. And so yeah, ultimately the program at Saint Leo has challenged me quite a lot, and it's adhering to the things I want to learn too.

Greg Lindberg:
Right. I see. Nice. And, Erik, I guess we could stick with you on this next one, but I'm curious about the different professors that each of you have had, different classes you've taken, what has really stood out in your programs. And, Erik, we'll start with you.

Erik Hoffmann:
In terms of classes and professors, I suppose the first professor I had was professor Charles Hale. And he I think kind of highlighted a lot of what I think make a good teacher or lecturer, someone who kind of pushes you and is strict with the work, but not to unreasonable, and at the same understands I guess how each of us learn and adapt to that kind of way. Because it's one thing to kind of simply teach information to someone. But you're sort of able to give real life examples or tailor things to them, understand them more on a one-on-one kind of personal level, I think that helps in terms of learning. It makes things more retainable as well, because although a lot of students are learning things in the class at the same time, you want to sort of be able to implement this into a real-world situation and kind of remember that and retain that throughout life. And that's how we kind of Excel in our future jobs, the occupations we choose and whatever career trajectory we're headed.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice. That's well said. And Andrada, how about you? Any specific professors you want to mention? Any classes that have really been interesting or just different?

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Well, of course, all the professors, in my opinion, are pretty amazing. And besides their knowledge and everything they teach you in class, I just really, really like the way they show they care about you. They really show interest. But I have to really, really stick with professor Dean. He's been my accounting professor, and also he was a mentor for the tennis team. And to me he just stands out just by everything. And maybe because he used to come to the tennis matches. I spent more time with him than with the other professors. But I really like the way he teaches. He sometimes throw a little joke, and he makes you remember the information, gives a lot of examples, even personal ones. And it makes you realize something that's important, that you should focus on. I don't really remember the name of the class. It was one of my last classes in undergrad, and we had to do this report on a company that we chose. That's what we did the entire semester. And he couldn't stress more how we need to work together to do it in time. And it was a tough time, but he's all right. So to me he's amazing.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice, yeah. Ilia, how about you?

Ilia Iarmanov:
Well, I can't even tell what classes that I liked the most because, well, all of them were very informative and interesting for me. Well, global business management with Dr. Hale, professional development with Dr. Monahan, legal environment of business with Dr. Little. So on ground classes were quite good and very interesting. Financial and managerial accounting with professor Tschopp, Dr. Tschopp, marketing class with Dr. Gonzalez. Well, I'll say I've never had any online before since the virtual studying was not used in Russia before the virus outbreak. Now they've started looking differently at this particular opportunity and developing online courses for the current students across the county. But well, the online studying was quite challenges for me. So like I said, I've never had this experience before. But all on ground classes are very good, and I love it.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice, yeah. All right. So next I wanted to talk about different clubs, athletics, any kind of organizations that each of you has been involved in, attending university campus. And let's start with Andrada on this one. I know you've talked about tennis, and if you could delve maybe a little more into that whole experience, playing tennis and also any other clubs or organizations.

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Sure. So I was part of the tennis team only for my senior year, and I was here at Saint Leo. And I can say that it was definitely the best here as far as tennis is concerned. Because it was a different conference, different teams, definitely there were better players, so more challenging for me and for everyone on the team. Coming also to a new place, I had to form a connection with the girls pretty fast so we can actually come together as a team. It's a little challenging to be an athlete and also a student. There is a lot of hours that you put into training, going to the gym, any meetings that you have, traveling pretty often. Whoever plays sports, I definitely recommend doing something like this, even if it's hard. And since I started my master's, I work as a graduate assistant in the Center for Global Engagement, as it is called now. Well, Paige and Carol, who work there, they had a few activities that they used to do with the internationals, so I participated in those. And then for a little bit, I was part of the Green Dot-

Greg Lindberg:
Oh yeah.

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Just attending some meetings, learning about what they do, but now our office is just focusing on international, like with the documents, not so much with the activities, so not so much anymore of the fun stuff.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure. Gotcha. And Erik, I know that you've done some fantastic work for our enrollment marketing department. If you can maybe speak about that experience in any other experiences you've had on campus.

Erik Hoffmann:
Yeah, so when I first came to Saint Leo, I actually worked at The Lion's Pride, the student newspaper that they had there. And so I was kind doing basic things like newspaper designs or occasionally writing small articles and things like that, social media. And it was kind of great to sort of start on that. It was a point somewhere at the end of the year where I applied for a scholarship, and I created this three-minute video basically just about my life back home versus here, the transition, how Saint Leo's been. And not only did I win that scholarship, but that got the attention of Maribeth and the vice president as well, just saying, "Oh, this guy seems to be able to know how to edit some videos together. And that's how I got the recognition for the opportunity as a marketing graduate assistantship within Saint Leo marketing, in which I'm working with a lot of people, you included, Greg. And that opportunity has been fantastic in terms of just sort of working with a real team who's doing actual marketing for a large organization, in this case the University of Saint Leo and sort of learning how kind of everyone works there, just balancing demands.

Erik Hoffmann:
COVID-19 has brought this new I guess challenge where's everyone's kind of separate. So I've joined the job without really ever meeting anyone in person, with exception to Scott Watkins, the head of marketing. So it's an interesting way to kind of... It's all about adaptation, it seems, and that work opportunity has really kind of for me ascended Saint Leo to really be an incredible experience on a self-development level. So I'm very, very grateful for that, and I enjoy that very much.

Greg Lindberg:
Exactly. Nice. And Ilia, I understand you've also has some work opportunities on campus.

Ilia Iarmanov:
Yes, yes, I did. Well, unlike Andrada, I'm not interested in sports. I don't care about sports, except for being a Lightning fan.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice.

Ilia Iarmanov:
Yeah, let's go Lightning, by the way, yeah.

Greg Lindberg:
[crosstalk 00:30:22], yep.

Ilia Iarmanov:
Yeah, I'm very grateful to Saint Leo for giving me a chance to get a part-time employment on campus. So my first job was at the library where I worked as a graduate assistant. I got this October 2019. I was very excited about that, so it gave me a lot. So my job was to assist patrons in searching for proper study material and making the library more useful and friendly for them. And I'm extremely grateful to Doris Van Kampen-Breit, the library director, for this opportunity and for making me part of the team. Well, my second and current job is at the financial department at Saint Leo. I did internship with them during the summertime, but after that I got this job. I do the part-time job as well with them. So I work as a graduate assistant to accounting team, and I'm very grateful for this to James DeTuccio, vice president of finance, to Jennifer Shaw, vice president of student affairs, Jennifer Martell, the head of accounting team, and Christy Floyd, budget manager, for making my second employment possible. So well, very excited about this. Very glad to have this.

Greg Lindberg:
Awesome. I appreciate you giving them shout-outs, and we're grateful that we could provide that type of opportunity as well for you. Let's talk a little more about... Obviously, we've talked about you guys coming to the states and assimilating. And I'm curious, as international students on campus and then perhaps maybe a little more virtually since COVID started, how have you guys really fit in? What kind of connections have you made perhaps with other international students, maybe from your home countries or at least the regions of the world? And let's start with Erik on that one.

Erik Hoffmann:
Yeah, with integrating within a community, whether it's international students through the classes I'm in on ground or whether it's at the workplace, I will say COVID-19 has made that aspect a little bit more difficult in regards to kind of being able to meet more people in that regard, with exception, I mean, kind of mentioning my earlier answer in regards to assimilating in American culture, it's been very welcoming, whether it's within the university or outside. And although, yeah, with Saint Leo community, I'm really looking forward to kind of seeing how 2021 pans out, depending what happens in regards to the pandemic for more of those types of opportunities. But for my first year here at Saint Leo, that's been great. I have no complaints in that regard by any means.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice. And Andrada, how about from your standpoint?

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Well, I can definitely agree with Erik. I believe that everyone is very accepting, whether they're students or professors or anyone that's on campus. Everyone is very nice, and they really make you feel like home. That's one of the feelings that I've felt ever since I came there the first day. Being on the tennis team, it was little easier in the beginning to make some friends, whether it was the tennis team or other teams, because we would come together and have some activities. We'd have to go watch the other games, so you kind of meet people that way. But then since I started master's, I also moved out of campus. And now in addition to that and the pandemic, it's a little tough to make new friends. All I have is pretty much what I could make during the last year and this year before we started to do the whole virtual thing. And I do have a few friends from the classes, and yes, most of them are internationals, whether it's from now or from before. I feel like we kind of have the same values and ideas and, I don't know, same things, so it kind of matches a little, not that I have something against Americans or anyone else.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure, sure. Very well said. Ilia, how about you?

Ilia Iarmanov:
Yeah, I'm totally onboard with you guys. So well, I love the community. I'm committed to the Saint Leo community. I met a lot of friends who live from across the world. The faculty and staff of Saint Leo University are very friendly, are very responsive and helpful to the needs and concerns of the international students as well. Well, we love the campus. I mean, my whole family loves the campus. So we love spending time on campus. My daughters love riding bikes there, well, in the evenings. And I don't know. I'm just very excited about being here at Saint Leo, and I'm very glad that I had an opportunity to be a graduate student at Saint Leo University.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice. As far as our six core values, I'm curious if any of those, whether it's, for example, respect, community, personal development, responsible stewardship, of those values I'm curious if any of those have really stood out to you guys specifically. And we could start with Erik on that one.

Erik Hoffmann:
Yeah, I feel like they all have strong resonance at the end of the day. If I had to really choose one myself, I mean, I'd probably go with something like respect, just primarily because I feel like regardless of who we are, where we may come from or our status in society has set us, I mean, I feel like if we kind of respect one another, that kind of opens dialogue. It opens communication with someone, whether that's solving a problem together or understanding each other or understanding a job or things we have to do. I feel like those, again, all of them have total value, but if we kind of begin with respect, it sort of opens the doors to the other ones, the leadership and whatnot and integrity. And so yeah, I feel like it kind of begins with something very basic like that. If we're able to respect one another, then we can sort of move on and achieve a lot from there.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure. Definitely. Ilia, in terms of core values, from your perspective, any really stand out to you?

Ilia Iarmanov:
Yeah, like Erik said, I'm not able to prioritize them either, because they're all very important, well, to me, but speaking, well, which of those resonated most with me, I would say that it's integrity, community, and responsible stewardship. It is of great importance in today's highly competitive environment, including business environment as well to be human being, to be responsive for what you're or saying, to deliver on the promise, no matter how hard it is. Community development is very important as well because, well, I need to belong somewhere. At the same time, I need trustful and respectful relationships with the rest. And last, but not least, responsible stewardship. Well, I believe that we must be resourceful. We must optimize and apply all of the resources of our community. This is what we are willing to do here at Saint Leo.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. And Andrada, how about you?

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Well, yeah, I mean, great point by Erik. Really I don't know how I can top that now. But I think that all these values apply, well, at least to myself. The way my parents raised me and the community that's back home, you kind of need all of them. And as Erik said, respect was a very big one for my father especially. That was his main thing with everything. So now every time I don't have to be like oh I walked in I have to say hi. It's something that he really taught me. And it's important, but everything else, you have strive for more and do your best and also be mindful of the other people. If you practice, let's say accounting in my case, integrity is a very big value that you need to have and community also. As Ilia was saying, you need to be part of something. Yeah, I can't really pick one. It's all of them, and I just feel like we all need to practice all these values, not just when we're at Saint Leo, but also in our daily lives so we can actually get better and make the community better for our future kids and current kids.

Ilia Iarmanov:
Yeah. Great. Great.

Greg Lindberg:
Definitely. Let's kind of sum up. I know each of you has touched on this a little already, but why would you recommend Saint Leo University to a perspective international student who might be listening to this and just the benefits of attending the university as an international student? And we can start with Ilia.

Ilia Iarmanov:
Yeah, well, I would recommend Saint Leo University because this is not only the school where you obviously get better knowledge and better experience and better skills, but it's also a place where you can make yourself home, be a part of the community and make new friends. Saint Leo has a beautiful campus, family stuff, very good and experienced professors. Well, most of them came from the real business, and they know not only how to explain things, but also how to apply the gained knowledge. And I'm very thankful to Paige Ramsey-Hamacher and Carol Hope Grant for making me feel at home and for their help and assistance in doing paperwork and make it possible for us to stay in the country without violating any laws and rules and regulations. This is very exciting, and they're very friendly, and well, I love them.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice. That's awesome. That's great feedback. Erik, how about you?

Erik Hoffmann:
Yeah. No, similarly, Saint Leo, ultimately I can speak from my own what I've kind of gone through from day one, and again, the opportunities that Saint Leo's presented to me have made it a lot more easier than I initially expected it to be. Earlier I was talking about kind of the value the university gives. That's obviously one great thing, but again, once I started here, I started working here, the university seems to kind of recognize what your strengths are. If you start talking to people, start talking to your teachers, I suppose they all kind of bring out as to what, help you get towards your goal or what you might want. And Andrada was earlier mentioning about how she kind of came here with a set goal, and they kind of financially talked to her. "Oh, this degree offers more opportunity because it's in high demand here." I feel like as long as a lot of our staff members and Paige, as I also earlier mentioned, these people are all really wanting to help. And I get a genuine feeling of that. And as an international student, it can be scary for some people, without a doubt, leaving your country and your family and then just coming to another country. And I feel like they realize that. A lot of them have been through it too. They have previous international students, people that may work at Saint Leo.

Erik Hoffmann:
So there's a great support system there. And so along with having that great value and that feeling of having your own home away from home, Saint Leo does that all very well. So there's no complaints there.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice. Andrada, anything else to add to that?

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Well, definitely that feeling of being at home. Once you come to Saint Leo, the area is pretty nice. Tampa is nice. Orlando, if you want to go, plenty of things to do. And everyone is amazing. They all want to help you and be there for you. And the school really pays attention to international students and has a lot of activities and anything that you need. The support is really great. So you don't struggle as much. So I could definitely recommend, especially coming from another place. I have something to compare with, and I would choose Saint Leo.

Greg Lindberg:
In terms of career experience, career goals, obviously obtaining a degree, when someone gets a degree, the ultimate goal is the outcome of finding gainful employment and pursuing a career that one really enjoys and finds rewarding. And I guess, Andrada, we can start with you on this one. Talk to me about your career goals and perhaps even how Saint Leo has prepared you for success.

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Sure. Well, after I graduated in 2018, I believe, yes, well, my accounting professor, Dean, helped me get a job, and I worked for Pricewaterhouse. It was definitely a great experience, great company. So as I was saying, the school does help you. It doesn't just, "Okay, here's the diploma, and go try by yourself."

Greg Lindberg:
Right.

Andrada Alston Gordan:
And well, there are a lot of things that I learned in school, but I also believe that you gain most of the experience while you start working. You gain from classes and professors, just the theory and all that, but the actual experience comes from the actual workplace. And I believe the professor same are going to guide me a little bit when the moment is going to be. But well, as far as goals, I'm going to let you in on a little secret here. I recently found out that I'm going to have a baby, so my goals are-

Erik Hoffmann:
Oh, congrats.

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Thank you.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice, [crosstalk 00:46:33] yeah.

Andrada Alston Gordan:
My goals have shifted right now. Already I'm focusing on this, and after when I'm ready to go back into the world, in my head right now I'm still trying for both accounting and tennis if I find a good company. I'm definitely looking for a CPA, but right now I'm just focusing on finishing master's and my little baby. That's about it.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure. Yeah, congratulations.

Erik Hoffmann:
That's a lot to do.

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Yeah, I'll be fine.

Erik Hoffmann:
Yeah, well, definitely.

Greg Lindberg:
And Ilia, how about you?

Ilia Iarmanov:
Yeah, well, Saint Leo gave a chance to go ahead and look for the new career opportunities as well. So Saint Leo helped me figure out what I'm really interested in and what I'm passionate about. And I'm very interested in accounting, so I'm passionate about the finance profession. I'm very grateful, like I said, for this internship with the financial department, and I'm grateful for this part-time job with the financial department here on campus as well. Well, I think I would like to build on this, elaborate on this skill. And well, I'm trying to get better skills on doing accounting. So, well, I'm trying my best.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure, yep. And then Erik?

Erik Hoffmann:
Yeah, it seems, yeah, as the years go on, the work continues to get more difficult, understandably so. And as I move forward, I really want to definitely do something that combines what I'm learning at Saint Leo with what I've sort of learned in the past and prior degrees. So that's something in creative marketing, they use in art direction, something where I suppose, again, if you're implementing a lot of skills that you've used in the classes that you've learned and the degree you're pursuing, that's ultimately what you want to do. You want to definitely make an impact in some way, impress yourself in some way. And they're being helpful with getting towards those goals, those career goals in Saint Leo, although I still have, I think it's one and a half years more or less until graduation. As I move towards that, closer to that timeline, I'm definitely going to be looking out there and seeing how I want to build that career moving forward. But the stepping stone has been presented to me with this MBA program. It's been great. It really has. And not just in kind of trying to focus you on your main goal, but sometimes it opens opportunities to make you think okay, maybe that's the direction I want instead.

Erik Hoffmann:
As I said earlier, changing my focus from social media marketing to marketing and realization, okay, I want to make a little alteration, I think that's natural. It just happens as you go. Life brings its own unpredictabilities, as Andrada has surprised us right now. These things-

Greg Lindberg:
Sure.

Erik Hoffmann:
They just happen. So yeah, just taking it as it comes, and for the time being, things are going well.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice. We can end on kind of a fun one here. It's a wrap up. If we could just around, and if you just want to talk about any hobbies, any interests, any maybe fun facts about yourselves that you'd like to share, we can start with Erik.

Erik Hoffmann:
Well, I suppose this kind of goes with a little bit of that creative side. I do a little photography as well on the side. World travel. I love traveling the world. I've been to not nearly as much as I still would like to, but I mean, technically right now as international students, all three of us are traveling right now. And it's the reason why I also kind of came here. I wanted to learn about this country, and I'd like to do a lot more of that. So in terms of hobbies as well, I mean, I've gotten back into a lot more fitness recently in terms of just gyming, tennis as well. I've occasionally actually been on another call once with Andrada. She is much better than me. I will say that. So just a fun... I do like doing a lot of that sort of stuff, because you're at the desk a lot sometimes. You're working, whether that's studying or working. You don't want to cramp up or anything, so I feel like getting out there and seeing the world, seeing the beach, seeing the city, seeing wherever. It's good for the heart and mind.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. No doubt. Ilia, how about you?

Ilia Iarmanov:
Yeah, well, like I said, I'm a Lightning fan. Well, I skate pretty good, and I used to play hockey back home, but I've been rooting for the Lightning I don't know for how many years, but for quite a long time. And this year they got a cup, and I was so excited about that. And I watched each game, and I was like cheering the Lightning very, very much. Well, I can't wait for this virus to go away in order to just hit the road and explore the country. There's so many stuff to explore, so many places to go around and just to go somewhere, from Florida to other states and see what's going around. I don't know. That's what I'm thinking about now. But of course I need to complete my program first.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. Nice.

Erik Hoffmann:
Sorry. I think everyone shares the wanting COVID to disappear definitely.

Greg Lindberg:
For sure, yep. And Andrada, how about you?

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Of course, the main one is playing tennis. I love it with all my heart. Also I like skiing. Another fun fact, I started skiing when I was one year and four months.

Greg Lindberg:
Oh, wow.

Andrada Alston Gordan:
I really, really enjoy doing puzzles. I have all over my house just puzzles. I don't have any paintings, but I have puzzles.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice.

Andrada Alston Gordan:
I love going to amusement parks, like Disney and Universal. I really like going to the beach, which was one of the main reasons why I wanted to stay in Florida. I enjoy cooking and definitely traveling. I can't wait to be able to travel and actually experience it with my husband and, well, baby I guess. So yeah, very excited for what the future holds.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice. Okay, well, I definitely want to thank each of you so much for your time, your perspective, your insight on not only your Saint Leo experience, but also just your lives and what you've kind of been through in your lives. And so really appreciate your contributions, and just want to thank each of you for joining me here on the Saint Leo 360 podcast.

Andrada Alston Gordan:
Sure. It was really fun. Thank you again.

Ilia Iarmanov:
Thank you, Greg. Thanks for having me.

Erik Hoffmann:
Glad being... Yeah, thanks very much, Greg.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely.

Speaker 1:
To hear more episodes of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, visit saintleo.edu/podcast. To learn more about Saint Leo's programs and services, call 877-622-2009, or visit saintleo.edu.

Episode Summary

In this episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, we are joined by three international graduate students for a roundtable discussion. The students are Andrada Alston Gordan (Master of Accounting), Erik Hoffmann (MBA in Marketing), and Ilia Iarmanov (MBA). During the conversation, they each spoke about:

  • Which countries they are from and why they came to the United States
  • How they initially learned about Saint Leo University and why they decided to enroll in a graduate degree program with the university and attend University Campus
  • Assimilating in American culture
  • Their respective graduate degree programs
  • Notable Saint Leo professors and courses in their graduate studies
  • Work opportunities and other involvement on campus
  • How accepting the Saint Leo community has been to them
  • Which Saint Leo University core values have resonated most with them
  • Why they would recommend Saint Leo to other international students

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