Wright State exploring student exchange with the University of Panama

Wright State President David R. Hopkins meetingwith University of Panama representatives

Wright State President David R. Hopkins, right, met with representatives from the University of Panama during their visit to the Dayton Campus.

A select group of eight individuals from the University of Panama are spending a week touring colleges on Wright State University’s Dayton Campus from Feb. 1- Feb. 6.

The exchange is designed to build a bridge between the two universities, enabling students to study at the other school to learn more about the culture and become more marketable for future careers. Wright State and the University of Panama have similar mission statements. Tony Ortiz, Aida Montes Peifer and Damaris Serrano are leading this exchange for Wright State.

“Hopefully we will walk with them through partnership,” said Ortiz, associate vice president of Latino affairs.

Wright State is focusing on sending students majoring in nursing and education but all majors are welcomed. Hospitals could pay the students to study.

Wright State hopes to increase the Latino population on campus.

“The government in Panama wants to promote grow and the relationship. Wright State and the University of Panama help to facilitate in the growth of programs that are of the Panamanian government’s interest,” said Aida Montes Peifer, graduate student in education leadership who coordinated much of the exchange program.

Panama is interested in Wright State’s studies in urban affairs studies and climate control because of Panama’s environmental issues. The university is also interested in Wright State’s rehabilitations programs.

“We could come up with a menu of options,” Ortiz said. “It’s a great opportunity for our students.”

The student exchange is also opened to faculty to collaborate with the Panamanian students in research specifically in fields in engineering, technology, biomedical studies and science.

The individuals from the University of Panama are meeting with the chair or dean of each college on campus. They will also speak with and tour the Dunbar Library, Premier Health, LEAP Intensive English Program, the University Center of International Education, the Office of Disability Services and others.

“This [exchange] helps our students and yours. … We’ve had great meetings that show much potential,” said Marcela Ortega, academic mobility coordinator at the University of Panama.

“There are so many opportunities. … It’s going to take a little time to develop,” said Peifer.

There is a great opportunity for students with disabilities to participate in the student exchange.

“We [Wright State] learned that they [University of Panama] have a program where blind students teach other blind students how to repair computers,” said Ortiz.

The group from Panama will also experience another side of Wright State and the Dayton area by attending a Wright State basketball game and Presidential Lecture by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and tasting the local cuisines of Dayton. They also met Wright State President David R. Hopkins, Provost S. Narayanan and Executive Vice President for Strategic Planning Robert J. Sweeney.

This exchange has taken two years to coordinate, and students can begin to participate in this exchange in one year. Students from the University of Panama must complete a specific amount of credit hours in order to come to Wright State.

Wright State will host a University of Panama networking reception that is open to the public on Thursday, Feb. 5, from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Pathfinder Lounge of the Student Union.

Ortiz said he hopes this exchange will bring a “long sustainable exchange of programs and ideas.”

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