Happy International Education Week, celebrated nationally from Nov. 13-17.
Click to hear Riya Goyal tell you about her journey at Stockton University and her advice for international students like her!
When Riya Goyal decided to pursue Computer Science, she set her sights on colleges and universities in the United States.
Studying in the USA has been my dream since my childhood, but I was not sure how to do it due to my family’s financial status and my society’s narrow thinking. During my schooling, I worked hard on my studies and other aspects of life and won many awards. After that, I applied to many of the schools in the US with the hope of getting a good financial and supportive environment. I got into all those schools, except for five or six, with good scholarships from each of them. I was going to go to another institution in Massachusetts, but on the last day, I changed my mind while I was applying for my Visa.
I want my parents to feel proud of their daughter as I come from a society where girls are not given opportunities to study far from home, especially abroad. It is possible only because of them having faith in me who have sent me here, so far away from them, to fulfill my dreams.
I felt like Stockton was just a better fit for me in terms of financial support and the resources here. Communication (with Admissions) played a big role: anytime I emailed the school, I got a response within five or ten minutes. I think it's important for students, especially international students who are not here and cannot call for help all the time, to get responses like that for us to come to college. They helped me with so many queries.
I joined Stockton for an undergraduate degree in Computer Science. Now, I am a junior Honors student pursuing two degrees in two majors, Computer Science and Mathematics, with three minors as well. This is due to Natalja Manger* really helping me out and supporting me in any way possible and Dr. Bradley Forrest** feeling my keen interest in math and motivating me to join the Mathematics program.
Soon, Riya became a residential student on the Galloway campus, where she made friends through the Honors program. After seeing how much peer support and getting involved on campus affects one’s experience, she decided to create her own student organization.
I was getting the support I needed since I was part of the Honors program already, volunteering for projects with Circle K International and making friends in clubs like Math Club and Computer Science Society, but when talking to my fellow international students, I saw that they didn’t have the same sort of community on campus. I know it’s important to push yourself to talk to new people or ask for help, but not everybody can do that.
That was when I felt like I should start the International Student Organization (ISO).
I started by creating a WhatsApp group because international students don’t really use GroupMe or those apps, and I started adding people on there to have a safe space for us to connect with each other or ask specific questions about campus life. As an international student, you are so far from home and family, so you must do everything by yourself. But, if you have a group of people who can relate to or assist you with all of this, I think it’s great.
In addition to being president of ISO, Riya is also vice president for the Stockton chapter of the Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD) Honor Society. She recently earned a $1,000 scholarship from ALD for her (involvement) on campus and in the organization as a whole.
I was in the second semester of my first year when I got the invitation to apply for the society. I researched them, and I thought it looked like a great program for networking and academic excellence, so I decided to join. They had an induction ceremony, and it made me feel valued and like someone who was capable.
This honor society became a part of my involvement; I later took the e-board position as vice president, and I got to learn more in-depth about ALD and attend the conferences that they host. It provides lots of opportunities, including scholarships like the one I applied for.
I feel like every organization here on campus has significant support for students and that it depends on how much advantage you want to take of it.
And take advantage she does: Riya is currently a lead Admissions Ambassador, peer mentor for the Office of Admissions, residential assistant for the Galloway campus, student director for the Honors program and Math and Computer Science tutor all on top of her responsibilities in her extra-curricular groups.
In addition, she has studied abroad in Taiwan and successfully published research on the effects of COVID-19 on the mental health of young adults with Duo (Helen) Wei, an associate professor of Computer Science.
Last winter, I was selected by the Office of Global Engagement (OGE) for the 10-dayNational Taipei University of Education (NTUE) Language and Culture Program. Through the program, I was invited to visit Taipei and learn the language and culture. It was a great experience, and I took double benefits from it: I learned more about Taiwan and got a chance to meet my family in India through it.
I worked on my first published research paper with Duo Wei, my computer science professor and preceptor, Sreelekha Prakash, associate professor of Health Science, and also my fellow, Rebecca Zhang, a student from Biotechnology High School. Now, I am working on more research with Professor Wei and Dr. Bradley Forrest.
What motivates Riya to be as active on campus as she is? According to her, it’s her family.
I want my parents to feel proud of their daughter as I come from a society where girls are not given opportunities to study far from home, especially abroad. It is possible only because of them having faith in me who have sent me here, so far away from them, to fulfill my dreams. I am lucky to have such parents who always supported me in every situation.
Are you an international student looking to be like Riya? Here’s some advice that she gives to students when she’s wearing her peer mentor hat in the OGE, Honors and Student Success programs.
- Get involved! I would say get involved!
- Never lose hope and positivity in any situation.
- Never shirk work and try to do every kind of work on time as it is our own responsibility. Otherwise, we will only suffer due to our carelessness later on.
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions (or) for help. If you need something, ask someone because there is literally a solution for anything. Stockton is structured in such a way that there are different departments for everything, so once you figure it out, it becomes easy to do great things at Stockton!
*Natalja Manger is the assistant director of International Recruitment & Admissions within the Office of Enrollment Management.
**Dr. Bradley Forrest is an associate professor of Mathematics.