When Brandon Bernandus he came to Colorado State University from Indonesia, he chose what he thought was a “very cold” location to live and study. Three years, and many unexpected warm and sunny days later, Bernandus will graduate this semester with a degree in communication studies and a minor in business.
“Coming here for the first time was so different,” he says. “But CSU is a very welcoming place for international students. They value diversity, so it’s a great place to be.”
Throughout his time in Fort Collins, Bernandus has immersed himself in his studies, completing a year of English language education through the INTO CSU Pathway, enrolling in the University Honors Program, and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in only three years.
“I took 18 credits one summer,” he said. “But I still hiked four 14ers.”
In 2014, Bernandus participated in the CSU-UADY Student Leadership Exchange, traveling to Merida, Mexico, for an international leadership, service and language experience with students at the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan (UADY). His interactions with Mexican students piqued an interest in Spanish, and he went on to complete a two-month Spanish language, literature and culture education abroad program in Cusco, Peru, the following summer.
“I love languages,” he says. “And the pronunciation of Spanish is very similar to the Indonesian language.”
In his limited free time outside the classroom, Bernandus has worked to share his experiences and successes with current students and future Rams. As a Global Village Academic Mentor, he has 15 mentees – eight American students and seven international students – who he helps ensure have the resources to make good academic and personal transitions to CSU. He welcomes prospective students and families to campus as an Admissions Ambassador, and serves as president of the Council on International Student Affairs (COISA), an umbrella organization for CSU’s international student groups. And earlier this year, he interned with Vice President for Student Affairs Blanche Hughes, conducting research to help improve student services for CSU’s international students.
On May 14, his dad and sisters will be here to watch Bernandus graduate, having traveled more than 9,000 miles to cheer him on as he walks across the stage in Moby Arena – the first in his family to complete his education in the U.S.
This summer he will complete an internship in Singapore working in international development and media for the Indonesian Embassy, before moving home to work and save money. He has been admitted to a graduate program at the London School of Economics, his “dream school,” but has chosen to defer his admission for a year.