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Monday, January 21, 2019

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Kyohey Kobayashi (left) and Ankita Chaturvedi Kyohey Kobayashi (left) and Ankita Chaturvedi

International Graduates Leave SDSU With New Skills, Perspectives

More than 470 international students will be graduating from SDSU this month.
By Michael Klitzing

“Being here has made me more open, more confident in my own space. It’s given me a sense that I can do whatever I set my eyes on.”

Ankita Chaturvedi’s final weeks as a San Diego State University student have been fairly hectic—and completing her master’s degree in information systems program is only half the story. With a family visit from India looming, she’s also become something of a travel agent.

“There’s a lot of excitement and a lot of plans being made,” Chaturvedi said. “My sister wants to see Disneyland, my dad wants to go to Vegas and I want them all to see Seattle because it’s my favorite city. So we’ll visit pretty much the entire West Coast.”

Athletic training senior Kyohey Kobayashi’s plans for his parents, soon to arrive from Japan, are similarly ambitious.

“We’ll be going to Las Vegas and Arizona,” he said.

For both Chaturvedi and Kobayashi—two of the 477 SDSU international students who will be graduating this May—this marks the first time their families have been able to visit them in the United States.

Once they arrive, their families will have the chance to appreciate not only a moment of celebration, but how much life at SDSU has impacted these students.

Living a dream

Growing up in Fukuoka, Japan, Kobayashi developed a passion for both baseball and Oriental medicine. It was his dream of melding the two into a career that brought him to SDSU.

“In Japan, baseball is the most popular sport and recently so many Japanese players have come to the United States,” Kobayashi said. “Sports medicine is more established in the United States than Japan so that’s why I decided to come. I see the treatment we provide as a combination of Eastern and Western medicine.”

After transferring to SDSU from San Diego City College, Kobayashi interned during his junior year on the sports medicine staff at the University of San Diego, headed by SDSU alumna Carolyn Greer (‘75). This year, he’s an intern on the athletic training staff at San Diego Mesa College, also headed by an SDSU alumnus, Tim Fischer (‘10).

Recently, Kobayashi landed another internship that brought him even closer to his dream—a 10-day assignment with the San Diego Padres during spring training in Peoria, Arizona. It was a chance to practice his craft at the highest level of the sport and even occasionally fill in as a translator in athletic training room for Padres relief pitcher Kazuhisa Makita.

But as Kobayashi reflects on his time at SDSU, he says the personal connections he has made have been just as rewarding as the professional experiences.

“The best part has been the classmates in my major,” Kobayashi said. “Since I’ve had to learn the English language, I feel like I have to study twice as hard. But everyone here has helped me so much.”

A familial bond

The 229 Indian students at SDSU are a traditionally tight-knit group, and Chaturvedi is one of its most involved. This school year, she served as president of Sanskriti, SDSU’s thriving Indian student organization which hosts lively on-campus Holi and Republic Day celebrations.

But Chaturvedi said the closeness she feels with the Indian community at SDSU goes beyond official club events. She speaks particularly fondly of the friendship—and aromatic cooking—readily dispensed by the large number of classmates who have created an Indian enclave at the end of 55th Street.

“Back in India, we grow up as a community with a family bond,” said Chaturvedi, who grew up in the state of Maharashtra. “Friends are family and family are friends. You connect to people at a very emotional level.”

But while she’s stayed grounded in her own culture, her time at SDSU has also opened Chaturvedi up to new ways of looking at the world—growth that she said came from a conscious decision to live with American roommates her first year and mingle with students from other countries at the International Student Center.

Life in America has also ignited her competitive side.

“SDSU made me work hard,” Chaturvedi said. “I’m now part of this huge set of people, all of whom are very qualified, so they give me this sense of competition. It shows me where I’m lacking and what I need to work on.”

Though Chaturvedi expects to settle down in India eventually, she’s hoping to remain an expatriate a little longer. She intends to seek a job in the U.S. this summer as either a business analyst or data analyst.

“Being here has made me more open, more confident in my own space,” Chaturvedi said. “It’s given me a sense that I can do whatever I set my eyes on.”

For more on the international experience at SDSU, follow SDSU Be International on Instagram and Facebook.