April 27, 2017 / Student from Ecuador says VU helped her achieve her graduation goal
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VINCENNES, Ind. - It’s more than 2,500 miles to Karen Camacho’s home in Quito, Ecuador, but her parents are coming to Vincennes University to celebrate with her at commencement.
“At first I thought it was not a big deal, but they said they are really proud of me so they want to come,” Camacho said. “I will be happy to see my family again.”
Camacho, 19, arrived at VU in the fall of 2015 thanks to an Ecuador Governor’s Scholarship and a recommendation to attend VU to fulfill her goal of studying biology and medicine. She will receive an associate degree in biochemistry with a concentration in clinical laboratory sciences. She credits helpful instructors and a friendly atmosphere at VU with helping her reach her goals.
“I was really scared about studying abroad because I have never had the opportunity before. It was really challenging the first semester because our culture is so different,” Camacho said. She also said it was a big change coming from a city of over 2.6 million to a town with a population of 18,000.
“In Quito you have a lot of distractions but here I focused more on my studies. I would love to work in a pharmaceutical laboratory,” Camacho said. “That’s why I wanted to start here, because VU is really good in chemistry and offers lots of hours in the laboratory. That’s what I like. You can apply what you know in the laboratory.”
Camacho is one of four students from Ecuador who came to VU together. Her roommate, Maria Araque, will graduate with her, also with the same degree. The other two students, who first enrolled in English as an Additional Language, will complete their degrees in a few semesters.
She said they all have found VU’s instructors helpful in reaching their goals. “VU is a good opportunity for persons from other countries who have never been by themselves. Because it’s a nice town, people are friendly and always willing to help you.” She also said there is not as much pressure as at larger universities.
“What helped me, too, was the support of my friends because they were in the same situation as me. Also, meeting other international students here helped because they gave us good advice and encouragement,” said Camacho.
One of those friends she met during her first semester at VU is Aintvzane Castarlenas from Barcelona, Spain, who will receive an associate degree in physics on Saturday. Camacho plans to visit her in Spain this summer.
“I am really excited to graduate. It is a goal that I achieved. At first I thought it would take forever to finish this but it passed so fast. I enjoyed being here,” Camacho said.
With plans to return to Ecuador to complete both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Camacho says she will recommend VU to her friends.
“VU instructors are really ready to help you and they provide a lot of office hours. You can always go and ask your professors questions. It is a strength of VU that you can talk to professors and receive help from them. In fact, they like that because it shows you are interested in the subject,” Camacho said.
Although she has been able to return home during summer and Christmas breaks, she says she looks forward to her parents’ arrival at VU for commencement. “My mom gave me a lot of support and courage to study here. She said even if you go for one semester, just try it, and I’m really happy that I came.”
In addition to participating in VU’s International Student program, and the opportunities it gave to share her culture, Camacho said she has also benefitted from serving as a chemistry tutor.
“Being a tutor helped me be more patient with people and develop relationships. It has helped me be less shy and made me better able to express myself. That will help me a lot back in Ecuador. And I believe my English has improved a great deal too.”