By Joel R Reifman
This week is International Education Week and the US Consulate General in Hyderabad is asking one simple question: why study in the United States? We could cite a long list of statistics to answer that question, but we decided to take a different route and ask a few of our Indian friends to share their own experiences. Here’s what we learned.
Mr Sreekanth Koganti went to the University of South Florida in Tampa 20 years ago to get a master’s degree in electrical engineering. He had the chance to travel to more than ten States during his time as a graduate student and was struck by the sheer diversity of the United States, where he enjoyed the opportunity to meet people from all over the world.
In addition to the world-class education he received, he also taught undergraduate students in the engineering department. This experience completely changed his professional trajectory. Teaching undergrads awakened his interest in being an educator, which he later “took back home” to India. His students asked pointed questions, brought their critical thinking skills to the classroom, and pushed him to be a better teacher. It’s an educational model he is now emulating as the director of three schools in Andhra Pradesh.
Passion into Practice
Dr Anjali Khanna-Farber travelled to the United States with a passion for medicine, where she is now putting that passion into practice. “Emory University has certainly played a large part in both my personal and professional journey,” she explains. She matriculated at Emory University in Atlanta in 2018 to pursue a Master’s in Public Health.
As a student in the School of Public Health and then as a researcher at Emory School of Medicine, she recounted how her experience in the US higher education system “has enabled me to grow and expand my horizons through meeting and collaborating with people across different continents and cultural backgrounds.” Today she is a Clinical Research Coordinator in Pediatric Nephrology at Emory School of Medicine, where she is hopeful that her “positive experience studying abroad will motivate others in pursuit of a higher education to consider studying in the United States.”
Appreciating World Cultures
Professor Venkatesh Choppella completed a PhD programme in Computer Science at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Arguing that the “American university system is unique for a number of reasons,” he highlighted five characteristics that make the US higher education system so compelling: the excellence of faculty members as both teachers and researchers; the flexibility of the university system; the accommodation of people of different backgrounds; the opportunities that universities present to their students; and the diversity of the student body.
“You’ll find students from across the world and this will give you a better appreciation for world cultures and also your own.” Professor Choppella is now an Associate Professor at the International Institute of Information Technology in Hyderabad. And he was so moved by his own graduate experience that he has a child who is currently applying to universities in the United States as well.
Legacy of Excellence
While these journeys are unique, they are also representative of how Indians have earned a legacy of excellence in the US university system. The South Central Asia region has one of the largest youth populations in the world and no other country in the region has sent as many young people to study in the United States than India. In fact, approximately 2,00,000 Indians studied at US institutions during the 2019-2020 academic year, most of whom were pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees. Students from India can be found all across the United States, with New York, California, Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois as the top five receiving States in 2019-2020.
Moreover, Telugu is one of the fastest growing languages in the United States. That is largely because so many Indians from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have pursued their higher studies, and in some cases their careers, in the United States. So if you are looking to study overseas in a place where universities have experience welcoming and working with Indian students — including native Telugu speakers — look no further than the United States.
At the same time, we realise it is not always easy to understand another country’s higher education system. That’s why the US Department of State supports 40 advisers across eight ‘EducationUSA’ advising centres in India. In our region, the EducationUSA centre at the United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) office based at the US Consulate General in Hyderabad offers accurate, comprehensive, and current information and resources on higher education opportunities in the United States, which you can learn about here: https://educationusa.state.gov/centers/educationusa-usief-hyderabad. You can also check out our newest EducationUSA centre in Hyderabad, the Y-Axis Foundation: https://educationusa.state.gov/centers/educationusa-y-axis-foundation
Mr Koganti, Dr Khanna-Farber, and Professor Choppella have made it clear why it’s such a good idea to study in the United States. After over two years as Consul General in Hyderabad, I’ve met hundreds of Indians who have told me equally positive stories of their own time as university students in the United States. So I hope you’ll consider following a similar educational path and I encourage you to reach out to USIEF and the Y-Axis Foundation to learn more about higher education in the United States. And last but not least, good luck with your studies!
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