RSU Honors International Student Population with Inaugural Flag Ceremony

group of students in lobby

The Student Government Association in collaboration with the Office of Student Affairs honored the international student population at Rogers State University during a February 2 ceremony. The inaugural ceremony celebrated 50 students across 27 countries. The flags of each country are displayed in the rotunda of the Dr. Carolyn Taylor Center on the Claremore campus of RSU. 

“Our international students make unique and significant contributions that enrich our campus and the communities we serve. We all benefit when our university includes students from cultures, countries, and experiences different from our own,” RSU President Dr. Larry Rice said.

Students dressed in their country’s traditional wardrobe for the ceremony. RSU’s President of International Students Ngare “Giovanni” Wahome was proud to see his country’s flag on display. 

“Walking into the Dr. Carolyn Taylor Center’s rotunda and seeing the ultimate symbol of home, which was put there not by me but by the university, makes me feel counted. Not only as a student but, in my case, a Kenyan student,” Wahome said.

Yleana Esparza, the Student Government Association director for diversity and inclusion, is currently working on The Integration Project, a resource for students that highlights diverse organization and clubs on campus.

“The institution hosts a variety of students with different cultures, life experiences and backgrounds. The Integration Project works to bring these differences to the surface to highlight the diverse population, events and activities at Rogers State University,” Esparza said.

Adapting to a new place, experiencing a new culture and understanding a new language can be daunting for an international student.

“We dress like you, learn to speak like you, eat the food you eat, listen to your music, and little by little, it chips away at the connection we have with home,” Wahome said. “One needs to imagine that we are all individuals that left what we have always known as our norm for a foreign land.”

Students, faculty and staff stood together to honor and welcome international students and thank them for their commitment to education during such a challenging year.

“I was extremely proud to be a part of such an impactful event. Together we can support our international students by not only acknowledging the cultures we share, but by continuing to uplift our international students by acting as allies and friends; making the transition to RSU inviting and supportive,” Esparza said.

International students make up 2 percent of the university’s student population. As a regional university of choice, RSU cultivates a vibrant campus culture while delivering substantive, relevant degree programs that align with area workforce needs. Through curricular and co-curricular offerings, RSU promotes and embraces cultural diversity and global awareness.

“May the flags hanging in the Dr. Carolyn Taylor Center’s rotunda be a reminder to all of us that RSU’s influence is worldwide and that our international students are an integral part of making RSU a special place to learn, live and grow as individuals,” Dr. Robert Goltra III, vice president for student affairs, said.