Staff Spotlight: Christy Czerwien
International Student Senior Counselor
Growing up, Christy always had an interest in movies and television shows with plots whose characters have adventures traveling around the world, such as Indiana Jones. Her interest in world travel and different cultures make her a perfect fit for a job in international education. She has been an international student advisor for more than six years with more than two years being in the Office of International Affairs at Texas Tech.
Tell me about yourself. What drew you to international education?
“I've always had an interest in other cultures and global affairs. My Bachelor's degree was in History, with a minor in International Area Studies-East Asia and my Master's degree was in East Asian Studies. I also studied abroad in Japan for one semester and have also travelled to Paris, France. I was drawn to international education because it allowed me to interact with people from around the world in a professional capacity.”
What is your role at the OIA?
“I am an international student counselor at OIA. I do immigration advising for international students studying at Texas Tech University in F-1 student status. My job is to make sure that students and the university are both in compliance regarding the F-1 student regulations.”
What do you see as the biggest challenges for international students at Texas Tech?
“Leaving home and trying to study, let alone function, in a foreign culture and language is always difficult. I admire students who are willing to take up that challenge and succeed. The challenges that students face are immense. Not only is the classroom and learning style in the U.S. structured differently, but it can even be a challenge just shopping at the local supermarket, because the food and vegetables are different. Trying to adjust to cultural differences is difficult enough, but to add on to that, students must also keep track of the legal requirements and restrictions of their F-1 student status.”
What are some ways your department addresses these challenges?
“I think even just acknowledging the challenges and showing compassion can go a long way towards helping a person still struggling with culture shock. Having been an international student abroad myself, the adjustment can be difficult. When students approach me with difficulties, I do my best to refer them to appropriate resources that would be of most benefit to them. As an international student counselor, I also do my best to make sure that they are informed regarding their F-1 requirements, so that they can go to school and live here without any legal issues.”
What is your favorite aspect about your job in international education?
“I love interacting with students. They are why we are involved with international education. I like that I am able to help facilitate the students' goals of studying in the U.S and at Texas Tech University. Additionally, by helping our international students study here, we are also able to raise global awareness among our domestic students. Interacting with international students had been educational for me as a college student and I feel that our international students enrich our campus community in many ways.”
What is the most interesting thing you have learned from working at the Office of International Affairs?
“One of the most interesting things for me has been to work on a team of equal minded professionals, who all care deeply about the different facets of international education. I previously worked in a one-person international office at a much smaller university. It was very easy to feel like a one-person island when trying to advocate for the international office. Here at the Office of International Affairs, there are many people working together and everyone brings something important and unique to the team.”