Global Perspectives: UArizona International Graduate Students

Oct. 10, 2023

Four International graduate students share their experiences, challenges, opinions and ways UArizona promotes cultural exchange.

Four women around a transparent globe.

The University of Arizona is a melting pot of academic aspirations and cultural diversity. Today, we take a deep dive into the experiences of four exceptional graduate students who hail from different corners of the globe: Jiayi Wang from China, Greta Pasztor from Romania, Jennifer Gwasira from Zimbabwe, and Gloria Orozco Dorado from Colombia. Their stories shed light on the challenges they've overcome, the lessons they've learned, and the cultural richness they've contributed to their academic community.

Jiayi Wang: Bridging Continents from China to Arizona

Jiayi Wang smiling at the camera while on a hike

Jiayi Wang

For Jiayi Wang, a passionate musician from China, choosing the University of Arizona was fueled by her desire for personal growth and a world-class music education. Having experienced the East Coast's academic landscape, she wanted to continue graduate studies in the west, where UArizona’s School of Music promised diverse perspectives and an environment conducive to her academic aspirations.

However, she faced linguistic hurdles, especially in courses with complex terminology and fast-paced discussions. But Jiayi's determination to improve her language skills prevailed. She tackled this obstacle by dedicating herself to extensive reading and staying informed with news apps.

Jiayi's contributions extend beyond the classroom. Her research on the impact of Confucian philosophy on music education in China, compared to Western philosophy, enriches the academic discourse and offers a multicultural perspective.

Greta Pasztor: A Musical Journey from Transylvania to Arizona

Greta Pasztor facing the viewer while sitting at an open piano

Greta Pasztor is a gifted pianist from Transylvania, a region that once belonged to Hungary and is now part of Romania. At a tender age, she began playing the piano by ear before taking formal lessons. A dedicated mentor guided her for 12 years, nurturing her talent and fueling her pursuit of excellence.

Greta's multicultural background infuses her music with unique flavors. She delves into compositions by Hungarian and Romanian composers like Franz Liszt and George Enescu and enjoys sharing the cultural melodies of her homeland with American audiences.

Balancing the demands of doctoral studies and a burgeoning music career requires finesse, and Greta does it with grace. Time management and seizing local opportunities have been key to her success. Her orchestral performances have enriched her artistic growth and won Concerto awards. Her advice to international students is to seek like-minded communities, actively engage in extracurricular activities, and embrace the local culture.

Jennifer Gwasira: Navigating New Horizons from Zimbabwe to Arizona

Portrait of Jennifer Gwasira

Jennifer Gwasira's interest in the University of Arizona was marked by her passion for languages, ignited during her high school cultural exchange experience in Germany. A decision to pursue a masters degree in the German language and great cross-continental networking paved her path to Tucson. She finds the campus to be a welcoming and diverse place,and she appreciates the safety measures and robust student support.

Adapting to a new identity in a foreign country, managing the extreme desert heat, adjusting to different cuisines, bridging the time difference with Zimbabwe, and balancing work and study were challenging. However, Jennifer’s involvement in the Global Ambassadors program allowed her to connect with a diverse group of international and local students, contributing significantly to her adapting to these challenges and boosting her personal and academic growth.

Jennifer stresses the importance of collaboration and networking in graduate education. Humanities courses, in particular, have provided fertile ground for collaboration with students from various cultural backgrounds. These interactions have broadened her perspectives and forged lasting friendships.

Her advice to fellow international students is rooted in practical wisdom. It includes getting to know the University and its resources, asking questions to make informed decisions, and being open to new experiences and connections. Jennifer underscores the value of cultivating relationships with individuals who can propel one's academic and career goals.

Gloria: Pursuing Excellence from Colombia to Arizona

Gloria Orozco Dorado posing with a clarinet.

Gloria Orozco arrived at the University of Arizona after five years of studying in the United States. This prior experience eased the cultural transition from her home country of Colombia. Although language barriers initially presented challenges, her determination and the support of her community helped her overcome these obstacles. She is now thriving in her graduate program, where she has won the Distinguished Doctoral Student Award and the highly competitive President’s Concert Concerto Competition.

Gloria shared insights into differences between higher education systems in Colombia and America. She noted that Colombian education often demands rigor, offering fewer resources to help students navigate difficulties. She highlighted the pressure to excel due to limited alternatives, in contrast to the United States where students enjoy more flexibility.


International graduate students contribute enormously to the University of Arizona’s diverse and inclusive academic environment. They bring unique perspectives, face challenges with resilience, and actively contribute to the cultural tapestry of the university. Their stories serve as an inspiring testament to the power of global perspectives in higher education. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the value of such experiences cannot be overstated; they enrich the academic community and foster global understanding.

Anesu Samuel Masango