This is the first Student Spotlight entry, a new section included in our blog this semester. Every two weeks, we will feature a different international student who is active on campus or a domestic student that has contributed to the international student experience at MSU. If you’d like to be featured in Student Spotlight, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current year: Senior
Studying: Media and Communication Technology with specializations in Information Technology and Information and Communication Technology for Development
Why did you come to MSU? Initially, I studied at MSU Dubai since it was a great opportunity for me to get an American education relatively closer to home. After the MSU Dubai programs were terminated, I came to East Lansing.
Are you involved in anything extracurricular on campus? Yes, I am President of MSU International Students Association (ISA), which is the official student organization representing all international students at MSU. I am also a member of the MSU Associated Students for Career Orientation in Telecommunication (ASCOT), which is a student group aimed at bringing together students in the Telecommunications and IT field and provides them with career development resources. Last, but not least, I am a Resident Assistant at Hubbard Hall.
How did you get involved with these organizations? I got involved with ISA my sophomore year. Then my junior year, I ran for the e-board position as an ASMSU Programming Board Representative. Joining ISA was one of my best highlights at MSU. I got to meet and work with so many great people from all around the world and it has been an incredible experience. The following year, I was elected to be the ISA President, which has been a crucial experience. I am blessed to work with the ISA e-board this year which is full of diverse and hard-working Spartan leaders dedicated to promote and enhance international awareness, cooperation and cultural diversity at MSU.
What are your hobbies? I like listening to music–mainly underground hip-hop. Most of the time, you will catch me with my headphones on. I also play around with mixing and sampling to produce my own instrumentals. I also like riding my long board and playing video games (Dota 2) when I have free time.
What is your favorite thing to do in East Lansing? When it’s nice outside, I love to cruise around campus on my long board.
What are your goals after college? I’d like to work in the IT/Telecom field, but I will not limit myself geographically. I have really enjoyed my time in the US and I’d be happy to continue my career here, but I do also consider the options of working in other countries. China, for example, would be a very different experience for me and I would love to explore it.
What is your favorite food? I love Kyrgyz cuisine with dishes like Plov, Manty and Dumdama. Unfortunately, though, the closest Kyrgyz restaurant is in Chicago. Also, I spent a year in Louisiana in high school and can say that I really like Cajun food, too. I Always like me some fried shrimp or rice and gravy.
Name one thing that you have found in East Lansing that you wish you could find in your home country: A bike friendly campus. I wish my hometown was as bike-friendly as East Lansing because I love commuting around on bike and also it’s good for the environment.
Name one thing that’s in your home country that you wish you could find in East Lansing: Kyrgyz food, of course. And maybe mountains. I am from a country of tall mountains, so in flat Michigan, I miss seeing mighty peaks covered with snow all year around.
What is your best memory at MSU so far? MSU’s Hail Mary win over Wisconsin. It was just amazing how the whole campus blew up screaming and cheering once the referees gave us the touchdown. Spartan Spirit was at an all time high and I loved it.
What is something that you found strange or unusual when you first came to MSU? It was unusual to me how big the campus was. I could not believe that I would ever be able to find my way around here. Luckily, I was wrong and the campus is probably what I enjoy the most at MSU.
Dena Elian is an International Relations Senior at MSU’s James Madison College. Currently, she is the Experiential Learning Intern at OISS. Her campus activities include involvement with organizations that promote Middle Eastern politics and Arab Culture.