MURRAY, Ky. — Since being founded in 1922, thousands of students have accepted Murray State University as their home away from home. And though the University is widely recognized for its outstanding academics and active campus community, it is also known for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

Murray State is the alma mater of proud Racer alumni from a total of 89 countries with more than 500 students from 57 countries currently enrolled for the 2017–18 academic year.

“Our international program is a point of pride for this University,” said Dr. Don Robertson, vice president of student affairs. “The international group enhances the University and part of our culture is because of the international student population.”

Whether it is by connecting with other international students within groups like the International Student Organization or one of the other 200 organizations the University offers, international students have plenty of opportunities to get plugged in on campus and in the community.

“International students contribute so much to the University and it’s one of the things that makes us stand out from other institutions,” Robertson said. “Many of these students have amazing backgrounds. They’re high achieving and they quickly develop this love for Murray State.”

Suraiya Shammi is a graduate student from Bangladesh studying mass communications and public relations. When asked why she chose to study abroad, she said the desire for in-depth knowledge was the reason for her move.

Suraiya Shammi holds a certificate from Phi Kappa Phi in front of a brick wall.
Suraiya Shammi (pictured), a graduate student from Bangladesh studying mass communications and public relations, began attending Murray State in fall 2016.

“I believe by studying in the U.S. I will be able to gain global understanding, which will help me to bloom into fullest potential,” Shammi said.

Shammi has since been involved on campus working with The Murray State News and joining the Phi Kappa Phi academic honor society. Prior to enrolling at Murray State, Shammi received her Master of Business Administration with a major in marketing but developed an interest in public relations.

“By exploring the faculty and future career prospects, I became determined to study this area.” Shammi said. “This program is accredited by Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, which makes it more lucrative.”

Throughout her time at Murray State, Shammi has started understanding a few languages in which she believes will greatly impact her future development. She said her favorite thing about Murray is the campus, multicultural lifestyle and outstanding faculty.

“Murray State University is a place of greenery where one can surely enjoy its natural beauty,” Shammi said.

When asked how studying in the United States is different from Bangladesh, she said the U.S. provides smaller class sizes, open discussions and real-world practices that provide a new perspective to view the world. Advice she would give students in Bangladesh is to take the moment and use it for their future: “The U.S. is a land where hard work pays off, and to gain competitive advantage there is no alternative depth learning,” Shammi said.

After she graduates from Murray State, Shammi plans to get hands-on experience from a renowned public relations firm and then pursue a doctorate in her field.

Kohei Miyazaki, a mathematics student from Japan, came to Murray State in pursuit of educational opportunities, which came to be what he said he enjoys most about Murray State: the small class sizes and the friendly community.

“I really like how close the students and their professors are, especially in the math department,” Miyazaki said.

An official headshot of Kohei Miyazaki.
Kohei Miyazaki (pictured), a mathematics student from Japan, came to Murray State in pursuit of educational opportunities, which came to be what he said he enjoys most about Murray State: the small class sizes and the friendly community.

When comparing education between the U.S. and Japan he said, “I think that in general you have to study a lot harder to graduate from a college in the U.S. than you do in Japan. Also, studying at a college in the U.S., you get to meet people from all around the world.”

Miyazaki is a member of the American Mathematical Society and is in his final semester of the graduate program in mathematics. After graduation, he plans on pursuing his doctorate in mathematics.

Another international student from India, Kimaya Thakur, is currently a graduate student studying English literature with the hope of making a difference in the world using literature and language.

“In my home country, research in my field of study — English language and literature — is not as progressive and certainly not experimental,” Thakur said. “While the education is intense and comprehensive, there are limited options, which is why I decided to pursue my graduate degree in the United States.”

Kimaya Thakur stands in front of book shelf.
Kimaya Thakur (pictured), is currently a graduate student studying English literature with the hope of making a difference in the world using literature and language.

When asked why she chose Murray State, she said the program offered the flexibility she was looking for in terms of concentration and courses of study. She had always wanted to study American literature, and Murray State allowed her to do that in addition to British literature. The University also offered a Global Outreach Scholarship, a scholarship granted to all incoming international students at Murray State. For her that was “the cherry on top of the cake.”

“At the risk of sounding nerdy, my classes, courses and, of course, the library are my favorite thing about being a student at Murray State University,” Thakur said. “My course, the guidance, the freedom and encouragement given by my professors enable me to grow and excel — not just academically but also generally.”

Thakur was the women’s representative for the Indian Students’ Association for two semesters and is currently one of the three student vice presidents for the honor society of Phi Kappa Phi. She has also worked as a graduate assistant and as a writing consultant in the Racer Writing Center since fall 2017.

When comparing the education systems of the two countries, Thakur said that in the U.S. she must do extensive research and write scholarly papers by understanding the text and formulating an original opinion.

“It’s not just about passing exams in the U.S.,” Thakur said. “It’s about actually learning something substantial and then contributing something more to the existing knowledge.”

She will be pursuing her doctorate in English immediately after graduating from Murray State at the University of Kentucky. Thakur says the advice she would give students in India contemplating studying in the U.S. is to pursue their ambition.

Another student from southern India, SreeHarsha Chamala, is pursuing his master’s degree in telecommunications systems management (TSM) at Murray State. His interest in learning to strengthen his communication skills and his eagerness to live outside his comfort zone helped him make the decision to study outside India.

“I was extensively looking for an advanced program that combined features of business and telecom,” Chamala said. “The TSM program at Murray State offers those extensive features.”

An official headshot of SreeHarsha Chamala.
SreeHarsha Chamala (pictured), is pursuing his master’s degree in telecommunications systems management (TSM) at Murray State. His interest in learning to strengthen his communication skills and his eagerness to live outside his comfort zone helped him make the decision to study outside India.

He went on to express his gratitude toward the professors who impacted his experience within the program: Dr. Michael Bowman, Dr. Vlad Krotov, Dr. Abdulrahman Yarali and Dr. Joy Humphreys.

“My master’s program wouldn’t have been successful without their encouragement,” Chamala said. “They helped me in assimilating advanced skills related to telecommunications and information security, and I’m extremely thankful for their time and patience.”

When Chamala isn’t in the classroom, he enjoys playing tennis and participating in campus activities. He also welcomes incoming freshmen through his role as a Great Beginnings leader and participated in the 2017 Homecoming Parade.

When asked what his favorite thing about Murray State was, he said he had two: “The T-Room. I love this place because I do lunch and breakfast with my friends, and all the T-Room employees are friendly and welcoming,” Chamala said. “Waterfield Library is my second home. I spend most of my time here to do my academics.”

He went on to say his time spent at the library helped him to meet new people, including some of his best friends.

Chamala is a member of the Rotary Club, and he has been able to participate in End Polio Now and Kiss Cancer Away in addition to providing aid with hurricane relief funds. Among his favorite activities, though, are the Ham Breakfast and Christmas Parade where he had the opportunity to interact with retired and current Murray State professors. He is also a member of the Association of Telecommunications Systems Management Club.

After graduation, Chamala plans on seeking a summer internship in order to gain more experience. He later plans to return to school for his doctorate.

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