International student shares why she chose VCU and her experience during COVID-19
By: Laura Ortiz, Graduate Intern
Contact: V. Renee Russell
VCU Global Education Office
RICHMOND, Va. (November 11, 2020) ̶ This fall, Virginia Commonwealth University is home to more than 900 international students. As an urban, public research university, many international students choose VCU because of its research and professional development opportunities, as well as the diversity and sense of community that Richmond offers.
Jayani Christopher, a fourth year doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry is one of these students and recently shared why she chose VCU. A native of Kandy, Sri Lanka, an island located in Southern Asia, Christopher also discussed how the university has supported international students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The major reason I chose VCU was the number of research opportunities in my field of interest,” she said. “Other than that, the student network in VCU and also the positive word of mouth about Richmond made me select VCU. I am really happy that I chose VCU over other schools.”
Christopher praised the real world experience she has received as both a research and teaching assistant.
“VCU has definitely been a huge pillar in my career. The opportunity I got here to work in a chemical biology research lab has helped me to expand my knowledge and to have successful research. In addition to that, I have had the opportunity to teach undergrads, which was a good career experience too.”
The arrival of the coronavirus pandemic required nimbleness on the part of both students and faculty at VCU, including Christopher. She commended the flexibility shown by her professors and the university during this time.
“My advisor has been a great support during the pandemic and even prior to that. Specifically, at this time, allowing us to have flexible schedules to minimize contact with people and being available to solve any research related questions through email or via zoom meetings have been a great aid,” she said.
Christopher also appreciates the mental, emotional and practical support VCU has provided during the pandemic.
“University counseling is available virtually. There is prevalence COVID testing going on for free for the VCU employees and personal protective equipment kits were provided to all the graduate students working on campus which included face masks and sanitizers.”
As Christopher continues pursuit of her degree, she remains satisfied with her decision to come to VCU.