Wayne State University

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Brazilian students in STEM fields complete first semester of study

December 24, 2013


Through an international collaboration, Wayne State University is hosting students from across Brazil for a year of academic instruction to help prepare them for leadership positions in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Nearly two dozen Brazilians are studying at Wayne State this year through the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, which provides scholarships to undergraduate and graduate STEM students from Brazil for study at colleges and universities in the United States. Administered by the Institute of International Education, the program is part of the Brazilian government’s larger effort to grant 100,000 scholarships to the best students from Brazil for a year of study abroad at the world’s top universities.

The majority of the Brazilian students on campus this fall have just completed a semester of intensive instruction at the university’s English Language Institute and will enroll in classes related to their areas of study for the Winter 2014 term. The students represent a range of disciplines, including medical research, mechanical engineering, and animation cinema and digital arts.

“The group that Wayne State is hosting comprises a diverse group of emerging Brazilian leaders,” said Kelli Dixon, director of Study Abroad and Global Programs. “Their study here will enrich the entire student body, resulting in an exciting exchange of ideas and perspectives.”

The program is intended to expand the academic and research exchange between the U.S. and Brazil. It is the result of joint efforts from two sponsoring organizations: CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior), an organization within the Brazilian Ministry of Education that evaluates university programs and awards educational grants and scholarships, and CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico), an organization within the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology concerned with the advancement of scientific research and technology.

Gathering recently for lunch in the cafeteria at The Towers, the students reflected on their first semester in Detroit. Mickael Medeiros, who is studying nursing at Universidade Potiguar, said he is discovering the world outside of his homeland.

“I’m enjoying myself, because I never left Brazil before coming here,” he said. “This is my first trip to another country, and it’s been great to meet new people and see new places.”

Perhaps not surprising, civil engineering students Heideane Brandao and Guilherme Bastos praised Detroit’s “wonderful buildings.”  Both students at Universidade Federal dos Vales do Jequitinhonha e Mucuri, they also singled out the opportunity to learn English as a highlight of their study at Wayne State.

“It’s very good for a career in Brazil to be able to speak English,” Bastos said. “And I am also learning about music and culture, which I like.”

Bastos also praised the support he’s received from Wayne State.

“It’s very organized,” he said. “We’ve gotten help for any of our problems. Everyone has been very kind.”

For Leticia Fernandes, who studies civil engineering at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, living on campus is a novel experience in itself.

“In Brazil I don’t live on campus, I just go there to take classes,” she said. “I’m enjoying meeting people from different cultures and learning about how Americans live and what life on campus is like.”