Global Student of the Month
Previous Global Students of the Month
- Alexis Hightower - December 2019
Our Undergraduate Global Student of the Month for December is Alexis Hightower! Alexis is from Aktobe, Kazakhstan. Aktobe is a very important industrial center of Kazakhstan. Everything from ferroalloys to vodka are produced, harnessed, mined, or manufactured within the city. In addition to the active industry, it is also a prominent city for the arts, sports, religion, and education. Alexa likes to point out the unique aspects of her culture, “In our culture, it is common to shake with both hands rather than just one. Rather than a firm handshake, our cultural norm is to have a gentle handshake. It is also better to dress more formal rather than for comfort. It is considered disrespectful if one dresses too informal. Another common thing amongst Kazakhstan culture that is different compared to the United States is that we usually open gifts when we receive them rather than opening them later. Most men of Kazakhstan will not shake hands with women either. Also, we serve to guests a boiled sheep's head on a plate. Then we divide the sheep's head amongst certain people in the family based on their importance.” Alexis is very proud of her culture, “Being from Kazakhstan makes me stand apart from my classmates because I know there are very few students and even non-students that are from Kazakhstan. I am able to share my culture with those around me that are not aware with how different Kazakhstan is compared to the United States. I am also adopted from there so I am able to share my life-story and how I ended up at Oklahoma State.”
Alexis studies Management with a minor in International Business at Oklahoma State University. Alexis loves the OSU community, “I decided to study at OSU because this campus and the people here are extremely kind and friendly. The campus itself is very beautiful and inviting. Stillwater is a very small town that is not overwhelmingly big. It feels more home styled rather than like a large city. Oklahoma State also has a very well-known Business School. The Spears School of Business is a very professional and supportive school. It has many programs that help students on interviews, resumes, and allows people to gain more experience in the working field.” When asked about her favorite experiences at OSU, she talked about the experiences with her sorority, “I was involved in Homecoming with my sorority and was able to help with putting together a large decoration for Walk-Around. After it was finished I was able to see all of it put together and notice how much of an impact it has to Homecoming overall. Knowing that thousands of people are walking around and seeing all the hard work that goes into this deck is incredible.”
Alexis is very hardworking. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, a prestigious Honors society, and of Pi Beta Phi, a fraternity for women. She also participates as a member of the Center of Sales and Service Excellence Program. When she isn’t busy with those organizations, she is helping her fellow classmates and peers as a Teaching Assistant for Marketing 3213 and as a Peer Mentor for the Freshman Seminar course, BADM 1111. She doesn’t stop there though. Alexis also works as a Sales Rep for Max Q and a Cosmetic Specialist at Level 7 Salon. We asked Alexis if she had time for hobbies, and she said yes, “Hobbies that define who I am are my ability to run half-marathons and that I am a dancer. I danced for 15 years and I have been running half-marathons for a year. I tried out for OSU Pom coming into college but did not make the team. I enjoy being outside and seeing the nature that you are not able to see in a car. My personality traits that set me apart are that I am extremely extroverted and energetic. I will talk to anyone about anything no matter the time of day. I am also always smiling and in a great mood. I tend to look on the positive side of things and will always try to put others in a great mood and have a positive outlook on everything.” We are very impressed with Alexis’s achievements! We are proud to call Alexis an Oklahoma State Cowgirl, and excited to nominate her as December’s Undergraduate Global Student of the Month! Congratulations Alexis!
- Marina Guinart España - November 2019
Our Undergraduate Global Student of the Month for November is Marina Guinart Espaًña! Marina is from Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona is a beautiful city with a rich culture and deep history. Marina is very proud of the diversity of Barcelona, “I love my country. Especially Barcelona, because it has a lot of people from everywhere! It is really fun!” With over 5 million people, Barcelona is certainly diverse! It is well known for its thriving art scene and the beautiful architecture throughout the city. Marina enjoys the way Barcelona connects people through its design and urban walkability, “I like that you can always walk everywhere, and you see so many beautiful things along the way.” Marina knows there is more to Barcelona than just the beautiful urban environment though, “One thing I really like about my city is that there is access to both mountains and beaches! You can engage in all kinds of activities from one place!”
Marina studies Marketing and General Management at Oklahoma State University. Marina has great reasons for coming to OSU, “I am on the tennis team, so I chose OSU because it has a really good tennis program, and also when I came to visit I fell in love with the campus and all of the facilities.” She says some of her favorite experiences at OSU are from being on the OSU Tennis team, “One of the best memories that I have as a student at OSU was when we beat the University of Florida last year at home, 4-3. It was amazing.” Marina has a deep connection to OSU and the community, “Being on the tennis team makes you feel really important for the OSU community because you feel you are a part of it.”
We are very impressed with Marina’s achievements! She was named Big 12 Player of the Week in February 2018. She was recognized as an All-Big 12 honoree. In addition to her impressive contributions to the OSU Tennis Program, Marina has excelled academically. She notes that she has had to overcome major barriers to achieve this success, “When I came here as a freshman I could not even say hi in English and I still got a 4.0 in my first semester. I think everybody comes here with at least a little bit of English and I came with none.” Marina knows how to maintain a healthy balance though, “I really like to spend time with my friends and do different activities every day. One of the biggest hobbies I have here is going for a walk with my dog.” Marina cites her family as a big influencer, “I think one of the things that defines me is my personality. I am good with everyone and I think for a team this is really important. I have a really big family and we are all together so I think I implemented this in the team and it was really good.” We are proud to call Marina an Oklahoma State Cowgirl, and excited to nominate her as November’s Undergraduate Global Student of the Month! Congratulations Marina!
- Ariane Ballner - October 2019
Our International Student of the Month is Ariane Ballner. She is from Hamburg, Germany. Ariane is on the Oklahoma State University Track and Field team. She has been at Oklahoma State since 2016 and is in her final year! Ariane had this to say about making the transition to Oklahoma, “I am part of the OSU Track and Field/Cross Country team and got recruited by my current head coach Dave Smith a few years ago. I decided to move to the United States in 2016 because I wanted to combine athletics and academics in the best possible way, and I have never regretted it ever since. Even though I love being in the United States, I am proud of being German and very happy that I can bring some diversity in the classroom and eventually share some of my experiences being from a different country.”
Ariana has enjoyed her time at OSU, and especially her time on the Track and Field team, “Oklahoma State feels like a home away from home, and I appreciate all the support people have given me over the past 3 years here. Being on the Track and Field team and being able to represent the Oklahoma State community on the national level makes me proud and I hope for many more great accomplishments wearing the bright orange jersey. In general, coming to the United States and attending OSU has been one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life, and I am ready to enjoy my last semesters here to the fullest.”
Ariane has demonstrated excellence at all levels during her time at OSU. In her time in Management in the Spears School of Business, she has performed with excellence and maintained an exceptional GPA. She has excelled as an athlete as well, being crowned the Big 12 Champion in the 2018 Outdoor 1,500 Meter race. In Ariane’s own words, “I am a very diligent, well-organized, and punctual person that works hard both athletically and academically, but I do know when to relax, so I also love traveling and cooking/baking with my friends.”
We are proud to call Ariane an Oklahoma State Cowgirl, and excited to nominate her as the Global Student of the Month! Congratulations Ariane!
- Mariam Gnanou - May 2019
Our International Student of the Month is Mariam Gnanou. Mariam is from Abidjan, Ivory Coast (West Africa). Here is Mariam on her home country: “My native language is French and I also speak another tribe language typical from my country. The Ivory Coast is a member country of the African Union. It is bounded on the north by Mali and Burkina Faso, on the west by Liberia and Guinea, on the east by Ghana, and on the south by the Atlantic Ocean. Its’ official language is French. One of my favorite dishes is the Alloco. The Alloco is a plantain banana that has been fried in oil. In Ivory Coast, food is very diversified because of the numerous cultures and ethnicities. There are more than sixty ethnic groups that bring diversity to the Ivorian cuisine. My favorite football team is the Ivory Coast and they are also the defending champions of Africa. The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro is one of the largest Catholic religious buildings in the world. In Ivory Coast we have two capitals, Yamoussoukro and Abidjan. Yamoussoukro is considered the political capital of the country, while Abidjan is considered the economic capital of the country. The coast of Ivory is a marvelous country that contains rich wealth. It is also a country where it is good to live and a country that is very beautiful thanks to its numerous infrastructures.”
Mariam on her time at OSU: “I decided to come to OSU because I got recruited by the coaches from women’s basketball to join the team. The main activity that makes me close to OSU community is basketball. I love playing to represent the school and also make fans happy. My international background is a plus for me to interact with other students; students often have a lot of questions to try to understand the difference in our cultures and it is always a pleasure for me to talk about my country and my culture.”
In addition to pursuing a degree in Management in the Spears School of Business, Mariam is also the starting center on the Women’s Basketball team at Oklahoma State. In addition to her athletics and academics responsibilities, Mariam also enjoys other hobbies: “I love cooking my country’s food, and I am also a hair dresser. I will define myself as a really happy person who loves to smile.” We are proud to have Mariam as an OSU Cowboy and this months’ International Student of the Month! Congratulations Mariam!
- Shubham Gupta - December 2019
Our Graduate Global Student of the Month for December is Shubham Gupta! Shubham is from Indore, India. Indore is in central India, in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It was originally founded as a trading hub as travelers journeyed between Deccan and Delhi in the 16th century. Today, it is the education center of the state, with the Indian Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Management both located here. It is also considered the financial capital of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, and is home to the Madhya Pradesh Stock Exchange. Shubham truly enjoys where he comes from, “I come from the ‘cleanest city of India’ named Indore. It is an integral part of Central India and I feel very proud of being a part of this ‘smart’ city which is enriched with India’s historical culture. It is famous for vegetarian food, namely puffed rice which we call Poha. Also, the city is known for its celebration of Holi (Festival of Colors).”
Shubham is pursuing his Masters in Management Information Systems at OSU. Shubham highlighted the culture of OSU and its academics when discussing why he chose to study at Oklahoma State University, “It is always a great struggle to leave your country and come for higher studies to any country. The decision itself is tough to make and then to choose a university for the next two years of your life which would shape your career was a very hard decision to make. Since I am from a very small city back in India, I liked OSU’s culture and environment. I heard that it is a college town, safe and very welcoming. I believe as students, we need to give a lot of hard work wherever we are, or whichever school we choose. More than rankings, it was important for me to go to a place which I can relate too and also I liked my department’s course structure and professors. Since I come from a family where I have always been taught to stand on my own feet, I had to take a loan. OSU’s scholarships and opportunities for a TA or RA also helped me to finalize my decision.” Shubham has enjoyed his time at OSU, and OSU has benefitted from his passion for his culture, “I have always been involved in extracurricular activities, various cultural events and group activities. I wanted to explore that area more at OSU, meet people from different countries and cultures. In my first year, I volunteered for every event organized by Indian Student Association and opted for being the Vice President in second semester and being a part of ISO cultural night, International Food Expo and ISO Olympics. These gave me the opportunity to learn different cultures and people from so many different backgrounds. Holding the Indian Flag in the Homecoming Parade was a great honor for me. Exchanging cultural knowledge and traditions was one of the most important learnings for me in this journey. I thank OSU for making me grow as an individual both professionally and personally.”
Shubham is very successful academically, and also stays involved in the community as the Vice President of the Indian Student Association. He has been able to help create many unique experiences in his role, “As the Vice President of Indian Students Association, it was an amazing experience to lead an enthusiastic team and to promote Indian tradition, heritage, values by organizing various cultural events like Diwali Night, Spear's Diwali Celebration, Holi and Independence Day. From arranging pickup and temporary accommodation for all incoming Indian students to leading the ISA delegation for Howdy Modi event was indeed great journey. Being a part of ISO cultural night and ISO Olympics gave me the opportunity to learn different cultures and people from so many different backgrounds.” Shubham is driven by his love of people, and a deep belief that everyone is unique, “I have always believed that everybody is unique in their own way. Everybody brings different perspective in your life and stands out. My background, family, culture, friends I grew up with in hostel, love for food and various Indian festivals, the urge to know more about other cultures makes me unique in my own way. My first memory of OSU was working in Libro. I have never done that back in India and it was so much fun. I made many friends from other countries, learnt to make coffee and got to know more about American work culture. It was a great learning experience. Although I don’t complain of getting an assistantship from second semester, but I do miss working in Libro. It will always stay close to my heart.” Shubham is an avid traveler, and loves to engage in community wherever he ends up, “I love driving and travelling to faraway places. I have been to California, Arkansas, Kansas and Colorado and would love to go to many more places in near future. I am an avid follower of news and I always stay updated with the politics happening in India and around the world. I love conversations involving political agendas and sports in specific. Friends say I am a great cook and at the same time I love eating. I have received a lot of love from people at OSU and I feel really grateful for it. I never expected I would find a home far away from my country.” Thanks to Shubham, Oklahoma State University will always feel more and more like home to everyone who joins this deeply-knit community. We are proud to call Shubham an Oklahoma State Cowboy, and excited to nominate him as December’s Graduate Global Student of the Month! Congratulations Shubham!
- Eduardo Cuervo - November 2019
Our Graduate Global Student of the Month for November is Eduardo Cuervo! Eduardo is from Veracruz, Mexico. Veracruz is a port city on the Gulf of Mexico coast. It was founded in the 16th century, making it one of the largest and oldest ports in Mexico. Eduardo is very proud of his country. He cites hospitality and family as two very important aspects of his culture, “For Mexicans, family and food is everything. In Mexico, it does not matter if you are at someone else’s house, you will be treated as a part of the family, and they will invite you to eat with them. The love that we put in these aspects are what I enjoy the most about my country.”
Eduardo is pursuing his MBA at OSU, with a focus on Finance and Stock Markets Administration. Eduardo referenced OSU’s reputation when asked why he chose to study here, “I chose the MBA at OSU to boost my professional career due to the international recognition of the program and the high expectations that have been set for the upcoming years.” We asked Eduardo to describe one of his favorite experiences at OSU so far, “The Homecoming celebration was something else! You feel like you are a part of something bigger, of something unique. Hanging around with thousands of people that you don’t know but who you feel connected with because you share something, because we share OSU, creates an automatic sense of community that you feel afterwards, and that is special.”
Eduardo has done a lot in his time at OSU. He is the Vice-President of the Latin-American Student Association and he is the Vice-President of International Affairs for the MBA Association. Kenneth Kern, the Assistant Director of the Watson Graduate School of Management, said this about Eduardo’s role as VP of International Affairs, “Eduardo has crafted an important set of objectives for leadership to consider that offers program improvement recommendations to enhance the international student experience.” Eduardo likes to stay active, “I love sports. I used to practice soccer and basketball until my high school years. From them I learned if you want to win, you need to give it all and something else. If you want to achieve bigger goals, you must be able to work in teams, and trust in them. Hiking is the way I like to exercise the most. I can be in touch with nature, maintain health, and enjoy great views.” He also knows how to take it easy, “I love to watch movies. I like them because they give me time to relax and boost my creativity.” Eduardo believes in the impact of travel, and says being from a different country has influenced who he is, “People who are not traveling are not living. The learning obtained after you travel is priceless. When you live in another country, everything is new and different. You become curious, you become aware of your environment. Knowledge about adaptability, having a broader perspective and international networking, is knowledge that will set you one step ahead from the others.” We are proud to call Eduardo an Oklahoma State Cowboy, and excited to nominate him as November’s Graduate Global Student of the Month! Congratulations Eduardo!
- Duygu Phillips - October 2019
Our Global Student of the Month is Duygu Phillips. Duygu is from Istanbul, Turkey. She is a Ph.D. student in Entrepreneurship. Duygu said this about her home city, “Istanbul, a city of over 15 million people straddling the continents of Europe and Asia, is a stark contrast to Stillwater in many ways, but similar in others. Its thousands of years of history are the foundation of a diverse and dynamic world class city today. In this city, I was able to attend high school and university in the French system and grow up speaking three languages. This background, in a city that is a crossroads of world civilizations, gave me exposure to other cultures from a young age and fostered a desire to see other places and meet diverse people.”
Duygu says that choosing Oklahoma State University was an easy decision, “After I decided to attend graduate school, OSU was the obvious choice for me. The Spears School of Business was in the top of its field in many areas of interest for me such as entrepreneurship, MBA and online learning as well as outreach programs like the CAGLE Center. School of Entrepreneurship, where I am pursuing my Ph.D., was recently ranked #4 globally for entrepreneurship research productivity. Furthermore, there is a community at OSU and Stillwater that many other universities lack. The friendliness of the people and their willingness to help remind me of my own culture and the interpersonal relationships that people seek to build there. I am proud and happy to be a member of OSU.”
Duygu has enjoyed her time at OSU, “In 2017, I had the opportunity to serve as the VP of International Affairs at OSU MBA Association which aimed at connecting international students with the community. One special experience that makes me feel connected with the OSU community is merging my personal life with my student life on campus. My husband is a native of Stillwater and graduate of OSU. We love providing opportunities for groups of international students to get off campus and join us at our home for potluck dinners or barbeque and salsa dancing in our living room. These opportunities are great for other international students who don’t often get the chance to see life off campus, but also an opportunity for my family to make new friends and learn about different cultures.”
In addition to being an excellent student and being involved with International Affairs at OSU, Duygu has a very impressive list of experiences, “I have been fortunate to live and work in many different countries and academic programs abroad. What makes my background different is the range of different experiences I have had. My first master’s degree, which was in marketing, was from the University of Birmingham, a top ten business school in the UK where more than 25% of the students are international students. Upon graduation, I had an opportunity to live and work in Puebla, Mexico for more than a year and teach business English to students studying to work in international business. Later, I spent ten years as a marketing consultant for companies in Istanbul and Oklahoma City that partnered with agencies in France and Italy and required me to travel for work. I don't feel transplanted from one country to another. Rather, I have studied, taught, worked, and lived in many international settings and can truly see the world with open eyes, not simply through the lens of my own familiar background and I really enjoy it.”
Duygu has a wide range of interests, “My interests include horseback riding, travel, and research. Even though I ride English style, living in the cowboy country, there is always an opportunity to see and enjoy pretty horses around. Travel is my passion and the source of most of my inspiration. I love doing research and understanding new venture strategies and how entrepreneurs perform in various countries is very intriguing to me. It is the activity that best satisfies my curiosity and desire to learn. Learning new ideas and being exposed to different environments, especially in the business world, excites me. Nothing accomplishes that better than crossing a border. But above all, what best defines me is my family and raising my two children to someday see the world with a broad lens of their own.”
We are proud to call Duygu an Oklahoma State University Cowgirl, and our Global Student of the Month! Congratulations Duygu!
- Kristi Phan - May 2019
Our Graduate International Student of the Month for May is Kristi Phan. Kristi is currently pursuing her Masters in Accounting. Kristi is from Vietnam, a country ranked 5th on the Forbes Travel Guide’s “Top Destinations of 2019.” There are many beautiful aspects of Vietnam according to Kristi.
“Vietnam is well known for its beautiful scenery, diverse ethnic culture, and friendly people. It is recognized as one of the most attractive investment destinations in Asia due to its high economic growth and a great culture. The culture embraces the veneration of ancestors, respect for family values, and devotion to study. Many travelers appreciate these traditional beliefs along with Vietnamese cuisine, regional clothing, and works of literature and performing arts. It is not uncommon to see three to four generations of a family living under the same roof. People believe that living together will enable them to support each other on a daily basis and strengthen the root of their family values. Celebrations are a big part of the culture too. Vietnamese cuisine is appreciated across the world and it is quite easy to find a tasty bowl of Pho or a Vietnamese sandwich in many big cities. Over the years, my mind continues to change but the love dedicated to my hometown and my culture remains the same. I am very proud to be Vietnamese.”
“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t” – Bill Nye. Kristi says that this quote has been giving her the courage to begin many great adventures, including her decision to attend OSU.
“After graduating from high school, I moved to Singapore to pursue an associate degree in Business Administration. During two years of the program, I found myself interested in accounting and began researching accounting programs in the U.S. Fortunately, one of my relatives recommended me to learn about OSU and showed me his love for the university. He told me that OSU had a great number of international students; that it embraced diversity and student success at the individual level; that it would be a great start for my degree and life in the U.S. Right when I arrived at OSU, I truly believed his words and instantly fell in love with this place. Every professor I have been in contact with is always willing to help me become a better person. Every friend I met always makes me feel that I am welcome.”
“OSU and Stillwater have slowly become my second hometown. Of course, sometimes I encounter culture shocks and am unable to connect with people due to differences in language. However, these obstacles were quickly remedied by the friendly and welcoming spirit of people here. I highly recommend everyone to engage in social activities like joining student organizations, going to football games, and participating in as many events as long as you can maintain good performance in class. The more you get involved, the more you will feel interested in the beauty of American culture, especially the spirit of Oklahoma.”
During her time at OSU, Kristi has been an inspiration to many students and an excellent example of OSU spirit! “Having an international background benefits me in many ways. One of the best benefits I have is the ability to empathize with international students who feel exhausted while on the way of achieving their goals. These feelings encourage me to reach out to people and provide them with as much support as possible. During my undergrad years, I was a member of the Vietnamese American Student Association. The goals of the organization are to help new members improve performance at school through the mentor program and to promote Vietnam culture through annual events and celebrations. I was honored to become Treasurer and then President of the organization within two years.
During the master’s program, I entered another adventure with more intensive works and lots of joy. I am a graduate assistant of Dr. Teresa Lightner an accounting tutor at ACE. I work with students on a daily basis to help them with homework. Besides that, I hold a personal responsibility to inspire students and let them know that accounting is not a dry, boring and useless major. Rather, it is a logical aspect of conducting business. If you want to understand how businesses operate, you need to understand their financial conditions. Nothing could go wrong if you have a strong accounting background.
Other than having an international background, my values are to focus on integrity, commitment, respect, growth, mindfulness, and family. From my parents, I learned that integrity is reflected by my ethical standards and hard work. Respect and mindfulness are other tools to advance my career and be successful in life. Family value is indeed part of my culture. It represents the inner voice reminding me who I am, and how to stay strong to move toward my dream of being an accountant and having a colorful and meaningful life. In my leisure time, I enjoy photography and practicing yoga or meditation. Whenever I feel tired, I browse the photos I took with friends or from my travels. Those photos act as a motor to refresh my mind so that I can continue to strive for a better future. Mediation and yoga, on the other hand, keep my mind and body healthy so that I will be capable to stay positive to overcome any obstacle.” We are proud to have Kristi as an OSU Cowgirl and this months’ Graduate International Student of the Month! Congratulations Kristi!
Honoring our finest
Every month the Spears School of Business in collaboration with the CAGLE Center will select the Spears Business Global Students of the Month. Faculty, staff and students from OSU can nominate any student that the nominator thinks should be selected and has the following criteria:
- Full-time business international student
- Actively involved in extra-curricular activities at OSU
- Minimum GPA 2.5 (undergraduate) and 3.0 (graduate)
- Two on campus references (faculty and/or staff)