Throughout our Spotlight series, we have shined a light on many of our students and have gained more insight into just how difficult it is to be an international student. No matter what step you are on in your academic journey in the United States, there are challenges that require a positive attitude, perseverance, and self-confidence to get through. This week’s subject Priyanka embodies what it truly means to stay determined when obstacles get in your way and she was doing so well before coronavirus struck.
Priyanka came to the United States in 2018 after doing her undergrad in her home country of India, originally coming to the U.S. as an F1-OPT visa holder through the American College of Commerce and Technology. When she came to this country, she was able to get a job with Verizon. Always heavily involved with technology, she worked there for a year and a half in the financial sector of the business.
Though she worked hard during her time there, IBM was eventually hired to take over the responsibilities in her office and she was laid off during the transition. As with many other companies, IBM decided to outsource the positions, many of which were filled by people in her home country of India. Priyanka expressed frustration at the irony of how “(she) came from India to work in the United States, only to be replaced by someone from India.”
As if this wasn’t chaotic enough, it was around this time that her school lost accreditation to give out OPT visas. Priyanka was excited to re-apply for OPT and find a new job but at this point, her extension was deemed invalid. She attempted to get approved for an H1B to stay in the country but that also did not work. Out of desperation and with the possibility of being sent back home, she decided to completely change track and apply to a university in Virginia to pursue her master’s degree in cyber security and continue her stay in the U.S.
Priyanka was able to start taking classes at her school starting in 2019 and for a while, things were looking up for her. She got a job in the school admissions office giving back to fellow international students at her school, helping them take care of their OPT applications and advising them on which classes to take.
This job was helping Priyanka stay afloat as she continued her education and reignited her love of learning. Unfortunately, the coronavirus outbreak caused another big blow in her dreams. When her school shut down, she was also let go from her job in the admissions office. Still in the U.S. and unemployed, the financial situation for her as of right now is not looking great and she admits that she has “no idea what to expect for tomorrow” and “can only look out for today right now.”
Despite the big setbacks she has faced, Priyanka still continues to work on her personal development. She says, “I am currently taking every opportunity to learn now and find certifications for jobs once available again”. Until then, she is looking forward to the fall, as her school plans to offer in-person classes next semester. She praises her school and, more specifically, her professors for the support they showed during the pandemic.
Despite having many things hinder her journey in the U.S., she keeps a positive attitude every day. She understands the hardships students are going through but implores everyone to keep working hard and to never doubt themselves. In her own words, “I know this is tough and everyone has challenges but stay positive and hopeful. All will be fine in the end. Never lose hope and try to not get discouraged.”
ISO would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has participated or followed us throughout our spotlight series. We hope all of the insightful stories we have shared have shined light on those who have read and showed that they are not alone as they go through the struggles brought on by the pandemic. There is still a long road ahead before we are back to normalcy, but international students have many people and resources around them to assist them on their journey back.
As always, ISO is dedicated to providing the best resources available to help our members beyond just providing insurance plans. Follow us on social media to continue to be kept up to date.