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Interview with Gabby Gomez Rendon

Gabby Gomez Rendon is an MBA international student from Mexico. She is also a graduate assistant for the Center for Women and Entrepreneurship at Chatham University. Visit this page to learn more about different degrees and programs Chatham offers to international students.

  1. What is your typical day at Chatham?

I don’t live on campus because I live with my husband and my son. However, I work half-time at the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship. So the morning are similar to any mom’s life: I wake up first, make breakfast, and wake my son up to get ready and have breakfast with my husband and me. After he takes the bus to school, I jump into the shower and get ready for my day.

Three times a week I go to the Center for Women’s Entrepreneur at Chatham Eastside to work. I am a graduate marketing assistant for the center and my main responsibilities are related to the promotion of events on digital platforms, in newsletters, and through our partners. I also help in the logistics of the many training events that we have, and many times I am the first contact the clients have with the center. Then I go back home to take care of my son after school and prepare dinner for my family. As we are a Latin family, we still haven’t adapted to the American meal schedule, so we usually have a big breakfast early in the morning, our lunch is just a snack, and we have a late lunch (a complete supper to be exact) around 3 or 4, and our dinner is light. In the afternoon I usually work on my assignments while my son does his homework.

Twice a week I go to the Shadyside campus for my MBA classes from 6 to 8:30pm, and when I arrive home I make a light dinner and put my son to sleep. After that, I have time to talk about the day and about what I learned in my classes with my husband. On the days I don’t go to the center in the morning, I usually do my readings and my assignments for my classes and also do house chores. Sometimes I work at the center for special events in the evening or on Saturday and I would just adapt a little bit my schedule during the week to have at least two days to study.

  1. What are new things you learn from living in Pittsburgh, studying at Chatham, etc.?

A lot of things. First of all, even I had a very good English level, I am very glad that I did the last level of the English Language Program at Chatham University prior to start the MBA. I have a scientific background and I did not have experience writing papers and essays in English, so the learning I got from the Writing and Grammar classes with Dr. Linh Phung and Ms. Alina Volper were gold to me. Honestly, without those two classes, I would probably be having very different grades.

Second, I was a little afraid of the environment because everybody had told me that there was no diversity in Pittsburgh and I could end up feeling like not fitting. To my surprise, at least at Chatham, it is a pretty good diverse environment which is also super open and respectful of other cultures and nationalities. In class and at the center I just feel like a fish in water. One thing that I have learned for living in here is to speak up. I used to be quiet even when I was uncomfortable with an assignment or a deadline. It was very hard for me to said no even if I had to struggle later on, but the relationship between professors and students is so open that it gives you the confidence to speak up and ask for feedback. I like this way very much. Some other things that I learned here in Pittsburgh are a lot of outdoor activities like fishing, kayaking, and skiing. All very cool!

  1. What do you like most at Chatham?

First the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship, I love my job, my boss, my colleagues and the projects we make. Second, the friends I have made at the MBA and at the Center, they are friends for life. Second, I love Prof. Pearson. I decide to start the MBA here after my interview with him. He is a great man and an amazing mentor. I like my advisors very much: Prof. Glyde is very cool. However, I miss Dr. Chung very much. She was the best. And I love the Summer Camp that Chatham has for kids, for older students like me who have kids, the summer camp is a life saver. Last year, I enrolled my son in the camp, and I was able to work and study, and my son was able to have lots of fun during summer while he learned many things. I will register my son this year again and I am even thinking to bring my nieces from Mexico for it.

  1. What do you think Chatham could improve in the future?

For students like me that come with family I would like to experience some sort of support before coming here. I looked for an area with a good school for my son, but it turned to be  50 minutes driving to the university. I love my house and my neighborhood but the distance has made me miss a lots of cool events happening at Chatham.

Study abroad – mid September updates and resources

Here are some reminders and resources to help YOU study abroad:

Chatham Welcomes the First Pittsburgh Pathways Students

As part of the English Language Program, the Pittsburgh Pathways allows students to take a combination of ESL and other academic courses before full matriculation into a degree program. Credit-bearing courses will be transferred to the students’ degree program, saving students time in completing their college education. The addition of the program truly provides students with numerous pathways to fulfill their American education dream.

One of the students, Yushi Zhang, introduces herself and her educational goals here.

“My name is YuShi Zhang. I’m from China. Unlike most of the Chinese people, I’m a member in Sui, one of the fifty-five minority groups in China. I chose Chatham because it offers me numerous paths and opportunities both in the present and future. For instance, I want to go to Carnegie Mellon as a graduate student, and Chatham offers me a great opportunity to do so. I want to achieve good grades in Chatham in order to fulfill my dream as well as spreading my unique culture along the way.”

And the Journey Begins

Orientation for new international students started today. James Laughlin Music Hall lighted up with these bright faces from Barbados, China, Egypt, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam. These students will be studying in the English Language Program, Pittsburgh Pathways, Chatham Semester, and various Undergraduate and Graduate Programs.

Welcome and wish you all the best as your international education journey begins at Chatham University!

Summer 2019 International Programs

Twelve English courses, nine field trips, 21 participants in the Conversation Partner Program, 28 short-term students, and 103 study abroad students are some statistics that describe the work of the Office of International Affairs, English Language Program, and affiliated departments in this summer 2019 semester.  Despite the current uncertainties and turbulence in the international education field, we continued our commitment to running excellent programs and creating optimal learning opportunities to students.

As a final project for the Academic Lectures course, students worked in groups to create proposals to make Chatham a better place for everyone. They then presented their posters at the End-of-Term Celebration. Their poster presentations offered great recommendations to improving international programs and student experience, including:

  • Making Chatham cooler by creating “green curtains” from ivy plants and pergolas
  • Using the Carriage House as the Global Community Room where domestic and international students gather for conversations and activities – This emphasizes the importance of turning a space into a “place to be” for certain activities
  • Making Chatham attractive to international students by improving student experience, building more partnerships that work, and creating “friendlier” websites. The goal is to promote intercultural understanding, valuable experience, and a more diverse learning environment – a promise that Chatham is working hard on delivering
  • Providing international students with more opportunities to socialize and use English through “big events,” “small events,” day trips, and holiday parties – things that Chatham does much better in the fall and spring semester, but is lacking in the summer term

Students highlighted the importance of creating a social event in a relaxing environment at the beginning of the semester so that they could bond with others. Students reported forming closer friendships and doing more things together after the BBQ Party at Mr. Musick’s house.

Below are pictures of the highlights of these programs, followed by pictures of students’ posters, illustrating the suggestions students made.

End-of-Term Celebration
Picking apples on the Eden Hall campus
Waking to the Three Rivers Arts Festival
Having a Joint Class with Education Students
Team Purple at the Shadyside Scavenger Hunt
Short-term Students at the Point State Park
Students presented their posters at the End-of-Term Celebration
Making Chatham Cooler – A winning project by Ren, Fadia, Yuki, and Yurika
A very well-prepared poster on student activities by Linh, Ayano, and Kan (LAK)
Miyu, Moeko, and Mana proposed something similar to what they have at Kansai University
Mikaella, Shodai, and Hinako made great suggestions on improving the website. They also highlighted very important aspects of what will make Chatham ore attractive to international students.
Ngoc, Miyako, and Takuto suggested more day trips beyond Pittsburgh
Vy, Ryota, and Shuta highlighted the importance of informal events that allow students to bond

Congratulations

The Office of International Affairs would like to congratulate many international students on completing their degree and their study abroad experience at Chatham this April. We also congratulate students on their international awards and accomplishments.

Congratulate English Language Program graduates, Zainab Bin Abbas and Kubra Bahcivanci, for moving on to their MA studies in Physical Therapy and MBA, respectively.

Talking about her experience with the English Language Program, Zainab Bin Abbas wrote:

“It is my last day in Chatham University English Language Program. It is hard to say good bye, but everything has to come to an end. I am really thankful for my teachers. In only one semester, I learned a lot about American history and culture. I love the fact that classes in the program were not about grammar, reading, speaking and writing, but instead they focused on helping us to use what we have already learned by reading real books and discussing academic content. Also, we watched a lot of classic movies and learned about different movie genres. For me, the English Language Program at Chatham University is a strong course of study that greatly boosted by English knowledge and skills. Chatham University is a small university, so not many international students and English language learners know about it, but the program is just as strong as any program offers by bigger universities.”

We’d also like to congratulate Dylan Jacquard on completing the Chatham International Program after a successful internship at Cemoi/Chris’ Candies.

Dylan’s presentation on his internship experience

Also, big congrats to the following students on their international awards:

Vira I Heinz Program in Global Leadership for Women: Skylar Houck (Nepal), Sierra McCullough (Spain) and Terra Teets (Germany)

Glenda Rich DeBroff ’60 Memorial Scholarship:  Hunter Yedlowski (Ireland)

Theo Colburn-Rachel Carson Scholarship Award and Lorin Maazel-Rachel Carson Award for Environmental Studies: Elena Woodworth (Panama)

Sally Mercke Heym ’63 Memorial Award for Cross Cultural Studies: Kaitlyn Salmon (Rwanda) and Katarina Trask (Spain)

International Advocate Award: Melanie Landsittel. Melanie has been an excellent student worker at the OIA for a few years. After her graduation this year, she will begin teaching English in Prague! Big congrats and thanks to Melanie!

The Cross-Cultural Workshop Series: Helping International Students to Get the Best of Chatham

By Victor Badillo, Graduate Student, Student Worker, Office of International Affairs

OIA is always there when it comes to help our international and exchange students, and this is another way we try to do so. The first months in a new country is hard, and it is good to have someone who can offer some guidance. This was the idea behind our Cross-Cultural Workshop Series. Throughout the semester, we met the students and had an informal discussion unlike a normal classroom. We shared our stories, strategies, and ideas about what to do in the face of this new and thrilling chapter of our lives: studying abroad.

With this workshop series, our approach intended to make learning collaborative and co-constructed by the participants rather than developed by the workshop leader. Our students came with great ideas, we tried to build upon the ideas and offer some help.

Global discussion

We discussed topics like getting to know Chatham, its community and the larger Pittsburgh community. “Surviving your first month” was a way to check how people were doing and also share some common advice. Of course, helping with school-related topics was one of our goals, and we spent some time talking about the US classroom culture, preparing for midterms, and strategies to study. But not everything is about school, and the OIA is aware that taking care of ourselves is a top priority for every student. In this spirit, we talked about home sickness, culture shock, and self-care. Dr. Elsa Arce from Chatham Counseling Center talked with us about signs of homesickness and gave us resources within our campus and in the Greater Pittsburgh area. We also learned about a few mindfulness techniques and how to improve our experience through relaxation and productive breaks.

At the OIA we are always trying to enhance the experience for all our students, and this series was a small effort with a big payback.

A Worthy Experience with Chatham University

By Mai Nguyen, MBA Student, Graduate Assistant for the Office of International Affairs

It has been three months since I first took my first step in the States. I fell in love with the people and culture here right away! One of my friends who lived in Pittsburgh welcomed me with a very tight embrace which dispersed my exhaustion from such a long flight from Hanoi to Hong Kong to the U.S. Professor James Pierson, Director of Chatham MBA Program, was very helpful in giving me information about the program and my career prospects after graduation. Dr. Linh Phung, Mr. Chris Musick, Ms. Kate Emory and other graduate assistants at Office of International Affairs were my lovely supportive colleagues.

Working as a graduate assistant at Chatham is such a very interesting experience in my life. I was first assigned to conduct research about promising markets for studying abroad. I took Vietnam as my first challenge to overcome. The work is independent by reading annual reports and making contacts with agents. Furthermore, I can use my knowledge from my current MBA degree to facilitate my actual job. Especially, I have a chance to work directly with people in various positions at the university, which may not be common in other organizations.

A trip to Schenley Park Skating Rink

If I have to point out a tiny disappointment, I have to confess that I wish Chatham would be a little bigger school with greater diversity of races and nationalities. However, the advantage of attending a not-so-big university is that I am highly engaged with the local communities and American culture. I feel that independence, discipline, teamwork, and punctuality are the core values in the work culture at Chatham that I fit well in.

While working part-time at Office of International Affairs, I am also a full-time MBA student. I really enjoy being occupied because to me when you work for your dreams, it is not a work anymore. I also admire another of American value: efficiency. I like the way my classmates routinely schedule every little group meeting or even a visit. They do not want to miss deadline. Also, I have found my professors to be very instructive and dedicated since they push us to go beyond our limitations and get out of our comfort zone to reach another accomplishment in our career path. I did not really have that experience anywhere else.

My daily road to Chatham University in the winter

Work and study cannot take you away from indulgence where I can find peace by walking home in the snowy nostalgic street along ancient buildings and majestic churches that never appear in a tropical land where I come from. I know there are a lot of wonderful things ahead of me to discover here in Pittsburgh and the States.

Reflection: Chatham Field Experience, Brussels, Belgium

By Melanie Landsittel, OIA Student Worker

Brussels

Hi again! I’m taking pictures of the Grand Place here, in Brussels. It’s a huge center where you’ll see amazing, gilded architecture, people playing music, sitting in groups, conversing, and also being touristy and taking pictures. I’ll show you what I mean in some pictures below:

As you can see Brussels is an extremely historic and beautiful city. It’s also extremely touristy, which can sometimes make trying to enjoy yourself like a local be tricky. But don’t worry, with a little bit of research and determination, all things are possible!

Ah, empty space—these grounds belong to the royal garden of Belgium, part of the royal family’s country home. They’re only open 3 weeks out of the year, and we were just lucky enough to make it in time. This was probably my favorite thing we did in Brussels, we left the immediate area of the city to get here which was really nice since it’s quite a crowded place.

In Brussels, we also visited several government offices, like the Flemish Parliament and the EU Parlimentarium. These two bodies were quite different, and gave us a little taste of some of the social issues facing Belgium, and the EU in general. Our tour guide of the Flemish Parliament building told us that, in Brussels, only about 10% of the people living in the city were born in the region. He elaborated briefly on the challenge immigration poses to the city, and to Flanders, in the opinion of the Flemish branch of the government. He also discussed the wealth divide between the French and Dutch speaking populations—Flanders is far wealthier than their southern counterpart of Wallonia, and has very different political interests than it as well. He even mentioned that the Flemish government has a bigger budget than the federal government of Belgium!

By contrast, the EU parlimentarium provided us with a walking tour through documents and pictures illustrating the history of the Formation of the EU, and the progress it has made as a governing body since its founding in the late 20th century through a series of treaties. They emphasized the need for Europe to work together to prevent conflict and empower all of its regions.

We were privileged to take several day trips during this program, one of them was to the beautiful place pictured above—Luxembourg City. Honestly, there’s no way for me to describe in words how beautiful Luxembourg is—it’s probably my favorite place I’ve ever visited on earth—just heavenly.

There are huge shifts in ground level, peaks and valleys all across the city, it reminds we of what I think towns in the Swiss alps would be like, yet Luxembourg is not like France, Germany, or Belgium really—it’s just entirely its own place, I felt like.

A group of us visited the city of Ghent, which was a beautiful small town, it felt much more like a Dutch city than Brussels, to me anyways.


There’s an enormous castle in the center of Ghent, pictured above, which we immediately got in line to tour. There was an unexpectedly high number of creepy torture chambers, but we didn’t let that ruin it for us—we took the narrow winding stairwell up to the top and got an amazing view of the city, you can see in the picture below:

There happened to be an amazing outdoor food market while we were there, offering a huge variety of food, from the classic Belgian frites to kangaroo meat, to amazing vegan options like the sandwich that I had. We also had the frites—which were the best I had the whole program by the way. After collecting all of our food, we found an open spot on the canal, sat down, and let our feet dangle in as we ate—it was an absolutely perfect day.
Just to top it off, as we were about to head back to find the group, we passed underneath the beer market tent and from the DJ stand was blasting “Take me Home, Country Roads.” An alarming number of people were singing along—it was fascinating, and humorous, to say the least.

A third day trip we went on was to Brugge. The city was, at least to me, quite similar to Ghent but much more touristy. When we were in Ghent, I had wished that we took one of these little canal boat tours, so we tried to do that in Brugge, but the line was incredibly long, so we didn’t bother. Renting bikes is one thing that I would highly recommend in a place like this to get a good view of the city.

The last day trip that we went on was to Antwerp. It was cold and rainy, which seemed fitting for this beautiful port town. The train station is said to be one of the most beautiful in Europe—I absolutely agree with that assertion and included a picture below:

Right along the harbor in Antwerp is this museum called MAS, it’s pictured above. It’s extremely unique, the exhibitions are curated along narrative lines, rather than chronological or regional, so the way we’re learning about and absorbing the meaning of the art is really different—I found it very impressive.


One exhibition dealt with the topic of urban agriculture and how to feed humanity, they gave solutions like growing algae on our bodies, eating rotten food with receptors that trick our senses and change the enzymes in our stomach, and growing meat in the lab (and all of these things are being done by the way!).

We also wandered into an art exhibition of Jan Vanriet. We think he was there, wandering the grounds and talking to people about his work—it could have been his personal home for all we knew. It was quite the day for art, as we also visited a large church with huge paintings by Peter Paul Rubens. From this day trip I think I learned that it’s important to have structured activities, as well to wander and let your curiosity guide you, it’s a balance.

At the end of the day, we visited this really odd, old escalator, it was wooden and ran slowly—I recommend visiting it, it’s called St. Anne’s Tunnel. The escalator leads you down to cross a 572-meter tunnel under the canal where you can get a great view of the city as pictured below:

Even though I feel like I spent more time outside of Brussels than within it, I do appreciate the city for its central location, it’s beautiful structure, and its vibrancy.

Melanie Landsittel is a senior at Chatham, majoring in Visual Arts: with a double concentration in Studio Art and Art History. Melanie works in the Office of International Affairs.

Interested in study abroad? Contact internationalaffairs@chatham.edu to find out about options available!