Aug. 30, 2010
Renee DeGross Valdes, 404-413-1353
Juhi Nagpal knows how daunting it can be to travel to a new country to live in a place you’ve never been before.
Nagpal came to GSU to study finance and it was the first time she experienced a new culture. Now, as president of GSU’s Indian Student Association, she takes the lead in helping students acclimate to life in the U.S. and on campus so that they can make a smooth transition.
In the last several weeks, she regularly greeted incoming students arriving from India for the first time, whether at the airport or MARTA.
There are 170 students on visas from India currently enrolled for the fall semester, according to GSU’s International Student and Scholar Services.
“I had a spreadsheet of people to go pick up,” Nagpal said. “Everybody’s been there. I was in the same situation when I came in a few years ago, though I came with my parents.”
Nagpal said the Indian Student Association is contacted by incoming students well before the start of school. And the students also ask for help in many other ways once they’re on the ground and running.
For instance, she helps students register for classes, open bank accounts, buy cell phones and find the nearest grocery store. If time allows, she takes students around herself, showing them how to get around on MARTA to campus and how to get to Wal-Mart or the grocery store.
Though it may not be in the president’s job description, Nagpal also allows students to crash on her couch until they find a place of their own. Other board members are just as likely do the same, she adds.
“It’s about helping people,” she said. “It’s the least we can do.” Nagpal got her start helping others while an 8th grader in New Delhi. She would watch movies, eat or read stories to the aging in eldercare facilities.
GSU, which this fall enrolled students from 159 different countries, is a welcoming place, Nagpal said. In the past, she has served as a volunteer international student assistant leader with the International Students and Scholars office, hosting icebreaker sessions and conducting tours of GSU and Atlanta for the new incoming international students.
Nagpal, a Dean’s List student since coming to GSU, will graduate next August. She said she has gained a lot from her experiences at Georgia State.
“It has been a good journey for me,” she said.