Iowa State helps Jahlesa find her place in America
Jahlesa moved from her island home of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands after receiving a scholarship to study computer engineering at Iowa State University.
She said moving to a new country was a big culture shock at first. She had two friends from home come with her, but meeting new people, the different weather, and the size of the campus was very different from back home.
“This school feels bigger than my island,” she said. “And the weather is still a big challenge. I remember the first winter running from building to building to try and get warm.”
Another shock happened when Jahlesa realized computer engineering was not the right major for her. She switched into Kinesiology, but went to Career Counseling for more assistance.
“I had no idea what I wanted to do,” she said. “All I knew was I was miserable.”
She took a career placement test, and it suggested she consider hospitality management. Jahlesa had thought about working with hotels in high school, but never saw it as a career until then. She enrolled in some hospitality management courses and loved it.
Now, as a senior, she still doesn’t like the cold, but she does like Iowa State. Her accent is less noticeable (much to her enjoyment), she’s met a lot of great people, and joined several clubs—something she is very grateful for. She advises students coming from other countries do the same and make an effort to meet as many people as possible.
“Don’t be afraid to meet new people,” she said. “It makes the process easier. Plus developing friendships here can make Iowa feel like a second home.”