Retention Efforts

2020-2021 Retention Programs and Services


Fall 2020

  • ISS implemented virtual pre-arrival Blackboard course for admitted students.
  • Orientation occurred entirely online via Blackboard modules designed to optimize student success in the areas of academics, community, cultural adjustment, campus life, and more.
  • CCMs virtually led small groups of students during the week of orientation, meeting daily virtually to discuss
  • Blackboard modules and provide guidance to students.
  • Despite COVID challenges, Blackboard modules provided valuable information to students and received positive feedback.
  • Implemented engaging, virtual programs for students such as a live cooking demo paired with Full Circle Food Pantry on campus. 25 students participated virtually in a follow-along cooking class with all ingredients provided ahead of time.

Spring 2021

  • ISS moved to hybrid virtual and in-person set up for orientation activities. Live streamed (via Zoom) the main orientation welcome event for students who were unable to reach the United States due to COVID restrictions and/or visa complications.
  • Conducted masked and social distanced events such as the campus tour, and held other virtual events such as a live cooking demo and game night.

Summer 2021

  • ISS provided in-person orientation experiences for Summer I & II.
  • Immigration Basics sessions were offered in-person and the sign-up capacity for Immigration Basics was set as 16 to respond to the UofA COVID guideline.
  • Cross Cultural Mentors assisted groups of students with mandatory tasks such as Pat Walker Health Center visit, ID card office visit.
  • Masks were required for non-vaccinated students, mentors and staff members and the programs were safely delivered.

Pre-Departure Orientation for fall 2021

  • Meet & Greet with ISS & Mentors in June 2021
  • ISS provided an online event on June 22 (8am and 8pm CST) to assist Fall 2021 admitted students. 91 students signed up to directly ask ISS staff and mentors questions and seek for information about arrival and orientation.

Conversation Club

Fall 2020

  • 60 student participants
  • 24 leader participants

Spring 2021

  • 48 student applications
  • 18 leader applications

Leader training

  • Leader training for both semesters was offered virtually. The program was offered virtually during Fall 2020.
  • Leaders and students had an option to meet in-person and do activities while practicing safety precautions during Spring 2021.
  • 100% of the leaders agreed or strongly agreed that their leadership, facilitation, and cross-cultural communication skills were improved by participating in this program.
  • 100% of the leaders agreed or strongly agreed that they developed more appreciation for different cultures and new friendship through the program experiences.
  • 90% of students reported that by participating in the Conversation Club, they were able to develop conversational English skills and confidence to speak English in a group setting.

Cross Cultural Mentor

Cross Cultural Mentors (CCM) for 2020-2021 were recruited in Spring 2020. CCMs assisted Fall 2020 orientation fully online and Spring 2021 both in-person and virtually.

Muhammad Ali Muhammad from Pakistan, a second-year mentor, was named Outstanding Cross-Cultural Mentor of the Year.

CCMs for 2020-21:

  • Audrey France
  • Dodi Zain
  • Jossie Santamaria
  • Mary Furhman
  • Muhammad Ali Muhammad
  • Prashant Khatiwada
  • Putu Pujiantari
  • Ryan Moh
  • Sarah Falknor
  • Sullany Ayala Rojas
  • Collin Petigna
  • Johanys Miranda
  • Madison Moss
  • Mayssa Hashaad
  • Patrick Kwok
  • Pratik Maharjan
  • Rubina Shrestha
  • Sagar Vanteru
  • Sriya Pokharel
  • Talal Alruwail

Recruitment efforts for the 2021-2022 academic year started in February 2021. Both individual and group interviews were conducted virtually in March to accommodate for the COVID guidelines. 24 students were selected and participated in the Spring training in April. ISS organized an in-person, one day training for CCMs in April

Professional Development Workshop

Students Panel Discussions in Spring 2021 

  • The Retention Team collaborated with the Compliance Team, Kelsey Lavigne (Director of Employer Relations, College of Engineering, Career Development Center) and Sarah Goforth (Executive Director, Office of Entrepreneurship & Innovation) to offer an online event to highlight students’ success stories to promote CPT and other work authorization.
  • 55 participants
  • Student panelists included:
    • Jade, a junior international student from the Commonwealth of Dominica, majoring in Accounting & Minoring in Business Analytics. She is a Finance & Accounting Intern with Tyson Foods.
    • Toma, a rising senior student at the UofA pursuing a B.S. degree in Computer Science. He was serving as a Science Venture Studio Commercialization Intern at Startup Junkie conducting market research to help a tech startup prepare an SBIR proposal.

International Student Organization

2020-2021 Officers:

  • President: Michelle Clark
  • Vice President: Sagar Vanteru
  • Treasurer: Ryan Moh Sven Yii
  • Event Coordinator: Alexis Applequis
  • Publicity Chair: Collin Petigna