Making the transition to a university setting can be hard for incoming students, especially for those who come from afar. While Wright State University has resources to help incoming undergraduate students, such help for new advanced-degree students from other countries did not quite exist. Until now.
The College of Graduate Programs and Honors Studies has selected six students to serve as graduate ambassadors to help their peers as needed. The program is funded by the Office of the Provost to support Wright State’s graduate student learning community.
The initiative aims to help graduate students navigate the academic and community landscapes and provide resources so they can achieve overall success at Wright State, said Shu Schiller, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Graduate Programs and Honors Studies.
The six ambassadors will focus on assisting graduate students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, collectively spending 20 hours a week in contact with other graduate students, under the supervision of Paula Bubulya, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Graduate Programs and Honors Studies.
Thomas Wischgoll, Ph.D., professor and interim chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, said the department has provided a help room for undergraduates for several years with great success. The graduate ambassador program provides a great opportunity to provide a similar service to graduate students, he said.
“The idea behind this program is to support our graduate students in academic aspects and beyond,” Wischgoll said. “We have a significant number of international students in our programs who are starting their first semester in a foreign country. This is a big transition both from a cultural perspective as well as an academic one.”
Michelle Streeter-Ferrari, director of the University Center for International Education, is well aware of the challenges international students can face and how to ease their transition. The graduate ambassadors will be an additional bridge to help guide new students on a path of academic and future success, Streeter-Ferrari said.
“The special care and attention our students receive at Wright State always sets us apart when recruiting international students,” she said. “While international students come with high academic credentials and many have professional work experience in their home countries, this program will help them connect with peer mentors who have experienced American cultural and academic norms over the past several months.”
“These graduate ambassadors will be a great resource for providing advice and support,” Wischgoll said. “The program is one element in this support structure for our graduate students as the department, graduate school and Student Success Center are all working together to ensure the success of our students.”
“I am very excited to welcome six graduate ambassadors as our first cohort,” Schiller said.
Meet the graduate ambassadors:
Akhil Dwibhashyam who has been involved with Wright State Hospitality Services before becoming a graduate teaching assistant for an Introduction to Computer Science course. He completed his undergraduate studies in India, where he worked as a software engineer at Tata Consulting Services. He will complete one remaining course this semester before graduating with a master’s degree in computer science.
Sahithi Gangireddy is pursuing a master’s degree in computer science because the coursework complemented her background in industrial technology. From Hyderabad in southern India, she had difficulty adapting to Ohio’s cold weather, but Wright State’s educational experience and extracurricular activities have helped her achieve career goals and build friendships.
Monika Gunasekhar, who is pursuing a master’s degree in computer engineering, is serving as a graduate teaching assistant for an Operating Systems course and relishes the opportunity to take part in scholarly activities on campus. She envisions the graduate ambassador role as leading to personal growth and is enthusiastic about contributing to the Wright State community and fostering meaningful connections.
Niharika Poreddy, who is in her third semester pursuing a master’s degree in computer science, will advocate for her students’ collaborative learning and will embrace the role of a mentor. She aims to inspire, guide and amplify students’ academic experience. She credits Wright State’s diverse academic environment and faculty support for broadening her perspective.
Naveen Reddy Tumu, who was born and raised in a South India village, had a childhood dream of becoming a software engineer. He completed his bachelor’s in computer science and landed a job at Anthem, Inc. Realizing he needed more education, he enrolled at Wright State to pursue a master’s degree in computer science and is scheduled to graduate at the end of the Spring Semester.
Aashritha Yamusani, who is a computer science master’s student from India, is a College Reading and Learning Association-certified math tutor with a bachelor’s degree in information technology. She is known for her professional demeanor and her skill in critical thinking and problem-solving. She looks forward to enhancing her skills through constructive feedback.