March 19, 2012
Catholic University Welcomes Brazilian Students
After the provost’s welcome luncheon for new Brazilian students, (l-r) Lucas Sousa de Oliveira, Associate Professor Jandro Abot, Guilherme Cruzatto Silva, Matheus Teixeira, Associate Professor Duilia de Mello, Victor Addono, Mary Brennan, Tito Fideles, Provost James Brennan, Fernando Jaeger, and Pedro Doria Nehme gather around the flag of Brazil.
In January Catholic University welcomed seven top-ranked Brazilian undergraduate students to campus, members of the first wave of an anticipated 100,000 Brazilian undergraduates who will study abroad over the next four years through Brazil’s Science without Borders program.
Science Without Borders — initiated last year by Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff — provides scholarships to Brazilian undergraduate students in mostly STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) for one year of study at colleges and universities in the United States and around the world. Students return to Brazil to complete their degrees.
The group at CUA will spend the spring and fall semesters of 2012 on campus and decamp in the summer for internships at nearby NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Six are studying in the School of Engineering — Fernando R. Jaeger, Guilherme Cruzatto Silva, Lucas Sousa de Oliveira, Matheus F. F. Teixeira, Pedro H. Doria Nehme, and Tito Fideles da Silva —and one — Victor Addono — is a math major in the School of Arts and Sciences.
They join the approximately 650 undergrads who make up the first cohort chosen for the program, administered in the United States by the Institute for International Education (IIE), which matches students with U.S. universities.
“We thought this was an excellent opportunity for everyone — students and the school,” says Dean Nguyen, who recently signed several memoranda of agreement with universities in Mexico and plans more extended trips to Brazil in the summer.
While fully immersed in their courses, the students are learning what it takes to educate engineers and mathematicians in America. Says Pedro Doría Nehme, “We’re paying close attention to the education system here to see how it’s different so we can compare the pluses and minuses when we get home.
“And we’re keeping an open mind to new ideas. I know I won’t go back to Brazil the same person, I’ll have different ways of thinking.”
Fernando Jaeger agrees and adds, “We’re looking at what are the best things to support the growth of science in Brazil and our shift to a more technologically based country.”
They’re also excited about their coming internships.
|The Brazilian students at Brazil’s Embassy with Duilia de Mello, Ambassador Mauro Vieira, and Andreza Eufrasio (Brazilian Ph.D. student at CUA) and other Brazilian officials.
“I am looking forward to going to NASA Goddard,” Jaeger says, “which will be an experience we wouldn’t have in Brazil. I’m interested in seeing how the scientists deal with research and want to think about whether or not they get more results because of their methods. I like the fact that we’ll be working there and learning so much.”
Adds Doría Nehme, “To study with the people at NASA is a great opportunity for us.”
Duilia De Mello, associate professor of physics and research associate at NASA Goddard; Jandro Abot, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science engineering, who helps coordinate Dean Nguyen’s Hispanic recruitment efforts; and Roy Braine, director of international student and scholar services in CUA’s Center for Global Education, have worked closely together to ensure that the current students’ total experience goes well. Their teamwork will be called on again this summer as a new group of Brazilian students arrives for a yearlong stay in August.
Everyone who encounters the Brazilian students agree with Braine that they are exceptional. “Overall this is an amazing group of kids,” he says. “They have added so much to our international culture at CUA.”