International students make way to Niles’ LMC campus

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Lake Michigan College at Bertrand Crossing campus in Niles is its own little melting pot.
With 27 percent international students from 57 countries, representing all continents but Antarctica, the two-year college institution can boast of a greatly diverse student population.
Uriel Shipano from Zambia is one of the international students currently studying at the campus.
The nursing student, who began his studies at Bertrand Crossing campus last fall, is enjoying his time here and his interaction with other students.
He believes the cultural exchange between the international and American students help many American students get a better and more defined view of where the international students are coming from.
For some international students, arriving at a new destination and being exposed to a new culture, however, can be difficult.
Having grown up in a big Zambian city, Shipano said taking on life in a new corner of the world wasn't too hard for him because many of the things he was exposed to here, he was used to from back home.
Lee A. Gill is Dean at Lake Michigan College's institute of Diversity and Leadership, which has existed for six years.
Gill, who has a background in law and grew up in South Bend, Ind., fronts the college's institute that helps organizations and people thrive in a diverse community, and world.
Although he has no apparent answer as to why there are so many international students at Bertrand Crossing campus, Gill said it's likely a combination of factors contribute to the diverse international student body.
He said the cost of the programs, word-of-mouth about the quality of the school and a quality transmission studies program for students who have English as a second language, could be among those factors.
He also said community colleges are often a launching pad for students who later transfer to four year institutions, such as Andrews University in Berrien Springs.
He believes the cross-cultural exchange between students from all over the world is becoming an increasingly important part of all students' college experience.
Lauren Coleman, Dean at the Bertrand Crossing campus, agrees that in particular the transmission program is something many international students value when they begin their studies at Bertrand Crossing campus.
But she also said the program is beneficial to American students.
In fact, Coleman said, studies have shown that some students who start their college careers at community colleges make more money than those who have attended regular four year colleges.
However, although Bertrand Crossing campus attracts students because of the factors mentioned above, it also attracts students because it is a community college.
He said community colleges have a tradition of opening up their doors to all students and have less restrictions on admission than other four-year institutions.
He said Lake Michigan College has worked really hard to develop a good relationship with the international students.
Coleman said this coming fall Bertrand Crossing Campus will be starting an international club.
It's a PTK, or Phi Theta Kappa club, she said.
A new student government will also be part of what the campus has to offer its students next fall, she said.
Sharing cultures and learning from each other is an ongoing and never ending process.
Gill, who enjoys his work as Dean for the Institute, knows that better than most people.
Within the next 30 days, the college will find out if they are the winners of the national "Charles Kennedy Equity Award."
The award is given out to colleges who are spearheading diversity through their college campus.
Lake Michigan College has in total 16 percent international students.

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