Tarek Elshayeb is from Alexandria, Egypt, and came to the United States to attend graduate school at Clemson University in South Carolina. “I was looking for a better education, better work opportunities, a better life in general,” he says. While studying for his master’s degree in human resources, he obtained an internship at the university’s office for international students.
Elshayeb has remained in the field, and has a passion for helping international students — and, in turn, helping American communities realize the benefits that international students bring.
“For those employers who hire international students, they end up recruiting more,” he says. “To me, that’s an indication that international students have proven themselves at those organizations and created some level of trust with those employers.”
Mirroring national trends, many of those international students are in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, particularly computer science and engineering, areas in which U.S. employers have such a high demand for skilled professionals that their needs often cannot be met by American graduates alone. Some of UNC’s departments also rely on international students to fill seats in graduate programs, thus keeping classes afloat for all students, Elshayeb says. Furthermore, because they are ineligible for U.S. financial aid, two-thirds of the money that international students spend on school and living expenses originates from abroad, “increasing the U.S. economy without putting any strain on national resources,” he says.
Elshayeb points out that international students also expose domestic students to other perspectives, motivating them to learn and travel. “It opens the eyes for so many,” he says. “At the end of the day, our goal as educators is to produce a global citizen. For our students to be able to compete for good jobs, they need to have an international perspective.”
At the end of the day, our goal as educators is to produce a global citizen. For our students to be able to compete for good jobs, they need to have an international perspective.
From the day they arrive on campus until three years after they graduate, international students can turn to the university’s international student office for help navigating campus, visa requirements, and more. “It’s not easy when you leave your home country, your family, your network of support,” he says. “It’s something I admire international students for every single day.”
“Given the fact that I went through the experience that they’re currently going through, that makes me better relate to their needs.”