March 14, 2012

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By Andy Hirsch

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Before accepting an offer to study engineering at Bucknell, Eduarda Teixeira turned to her computer to find out more about the University that sits more than 4,000 miles away from her home in Brazil.

"Truthfully, I wasn't familiar with Bucknell, so I started Googling. I was really impressed with what I found so it was an easy decision to come here," Teixeira said. She is entering the equivalent of her junior year.

Teixeira is one of the first undergraduate students to take part in the Brazilian government's Science Without Borders program. The new program gives students who excel in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) the opportunity to spend a year studying at one of America's top colleges or universities, with all the costs covered by Brazil.

Jennifer Figueroa, Bucknell's Director of International Student Services, heard about the program and worked to get the University on the list of host institutions.

"This is a win-win for everyone involved," Figueroa said. "The Brazilian government wants its best and brightest in the STEM fields to get a taste of a premier education in the U.S., and they certainly get that here. The program also gives Bucknell an opportunity to grow its international presence, and create a more diverse atmosphere on campus."

Teixeira and four other students who are part of the program arrived at Bucknell in January. They are all engineering students, and were required to meet Bucknell's academic requirements. And while they agreed coming as a group has helped them adjust to their new surroundings, it did not take long for them to feel like part of the campus community.

"I feel like this place is my new home," said Tiago Rodrigues, an engineering student from Sao Paulo who is also in the equivalent of his junior year. "I have never felt so welcomed by people that I have never met before. The students here are truly unique and really helped in making me feel that this is my place."

"The professors are great too," Teixeira added. "They try to help you out with everything. I have never before had a professor that said 'you can come by my office any time you want.' That doesn't happen at my university in Brazil. It's amazing how everything works here."

The students admit there are some challenges and that they are still adjusting. Homework, for example, is something they are rarely assigned in Brazil.

"In Brazil we just have three or four exams. It is different here," Teixeira said. "I have to do homework every day, I have to work on projects and study for quizzes and exams."

The students will be on campus through December, spending the summer months participating in research or an internship. They will then return to Brazil after their year in America to finish their degrees.

Figueroa said Bucknell plans to bring more Science Without Border students to campus in August, and is also exploring ways to expand Bucknell's presence with other countries that have similar scholarship programs.

Contact: Division of Communications