With more than 60 students from 25 countries around the world, West Coast University has more than doubled its global presence over the years.
“International students really bring a lot to campus. They have a unique viewpoint on life, healthcare and education,” WCU senior international education specialist Gil Cho said. “As the world gets smaller, everyone needs to develop cultural competence.”
Hailing from Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, WCU’s international student population has increased by more than 200 percent in less than two years.
“Their unique perspective brings a lot to the classroom. They have an understanding and viewpoints that add to the WCU experience,” Cho said.
To recognize International Education Week, WCU shares a look at four of its students:
Julian Gutierrez Moreno; Colombia
BSN ’21; WCU-Miami
Growing up, Julian Gutierrez Moreno never wanted to be an “A” student — mostly because being an “A” student in Colombia is like being a “C” student in the United States.
“Back home we only use E-S-A-D-I,” Moreno said. “It may sound silly, but learning about C plus and minus, A plus and minus helped me understand how it makes a difference for your final grade.”
Previously an international student in Australia, Moreno is used to being far from home. But, luckily for him, this time around he has some family company.
“I live here with my mom and even though I have her here with me, is not the same as having the whole family together,” he said. “Being in the States has given me the opportunity to expand my education. It has opened new horizons, and has giving me the right to dream big and to know that when you really want something, some sacrifices must be done. For us international students, being away from family, friends, being away from your own life, that is a sacrifice worth to do.”
To avoid getting homesick, Moreno advises future international students to maintain an active communication with their family and to not be afraid to express their feelings. Moreno also said he really appreciated having someone from WCU he could share any personal problems or any problems at school.
“It is not good to bottle issues up because, believe me when I say that it seriously affects your performance as a student. Be brave and know that time does fly,” he said. “Besides, through all the tears that you may have, all the alone moments that you may feel, always keep in mind that you are going to become a nurse.”
For Moreno, one of his proudest moments was when he received the letter of acceptance from WCU. Moreno had always wanted to be a nurse growing up and he said he appreciated the opportunity to now become one.
“At that point I was able to say, ‘Mom, I did it. I’m in the BSN program at West Coast University,’” he said. “It may sound silly, but having to learn another language, having the capacity to understand what is being taught to you, and take that knowledge, translate it and share it with the people around you, is something to be proud of.”
Luqin Zhong; China
BSN ’22; WCU-Orange County
Originally from China, Luqin Zhong first wanted to study nursing after her father had a heart attack. The experience changed her outlook on what was truly important enough to switch careers and return to school. And it didn’t hurt that the weather is nice in Southern California too.
“I have my bachelor’s degree in computer science and technology. However, in 2015, I almost lost my dad, which made me think about life. I felt I knew less about body health, which made me want to learn more,” she said. “Now, not only can I take care of my own family, but also, I can help others. That’s why I want to become a nurse.”
Zhong said has she has enjoyed the educational experience in the United States and appreciates the open classroom discussions at WCU-Orange County, where questions may or may not have a right or wrong answer — but a “best” answer instead.
“For some questions, we cannot be narrow minded to the answer,” she said. “In the classroom we can be open-minded and think critically about the things that happened in our life.”
Another big change, she said, was learning the importance of team work and “active listening.”
“In my country, competition makes people not want to help, but here at WCU, teamwork helps us to succeed,” Zhong said. “I can’t imagine how I could study alone and still achieve in class. Team work is super important. And by having a study group, we are helping others and benefiting ourselves at the same time.”
“Also, I like the weather here in the California,” Zhong added. “The people here are really friendly, especially in the nursing school.”
Trung Nguyen; Vietnam
DPT ’23; WCU-Center for Graduate Studies
Trung Nguyen loves sports — especially basketball. Having already earned a master’s of business administration, Nguyen’s goal after graduating from WCU is to become a licensed physical therapist and operate his own clinic.
“I was not focused much on school in Vietnam, so my parents decided to send me to the U.S., for a better future they said,” Nguyen said. “I want to become a PT because I love sports and want to be involved in sports in a way. I also love to help people.”
While in the U.S., Nguyen said he learned about creating a healthy routine to stay active and fit while still keeping up with school and life in general. During that time, Nguyen became enamored with basketball, sometimes playing up to five times a week at his community college. Besides basketball, Nguyen also taught himself how to play the guitar.
“I think the best life lesson that I have learned is ‘Never, never, never give up!’ Dreams do come true if you’re 100 percent willing to work for it, but dreams don’t work until you take action,” Nguyen said. “My proudest moment was when I got admitted to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at West Coast University. It felt like all my hard work had paid off, and my dream just came true.”
Minji Park; South Korea
BSN ’23; WCU-Los Angeles
Minji Park hadn’t planned on going to college in the United States. She first came to the U.S. to attend high school but wasn’t sure what to do after graduation. Knowing she liked to help people, Park’s host dad recommended she explore nursing.
“I took anatomy for fun and loved it so much,” Park said. “I like human biology generally because it makes me feel passionate. I can study human bio while helping others.”
Since coming to the California, Park has picked up another language — Spanish — and discovered a passion for Latin culture and food. In Korea, Park said, most students don’t pursue a field because they are interested in it, but because their grades qualify them to continue in it.
“Koreans study really, really hard for nothing. I do not want to say nothing but actually most of my friends do not know what they want to study or what they are doing, which is sad,” she said. “Good grades can determine what they can study so most people choose to study based on their grades.”
Park said she’s enjoys working with the other students at WCU-Los Angeles and really loves living in LA.
“The beaches and mountains are close, downtown is gorgeous. And especially because the sunset is beautiful,” she said. “I want to live in LA for rest of my life. However, I also want to be a travel nurse. Let’s see what happens.”
WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.