International Students


The International Student Mentor (ISM) Program at the University of Rochester exists to foster meaningful interactions between current UR students and incoming international first-year students. ISMs begin communicating with our new international students in the early summer to help them prepare for what's ahead at UR.  Throughout the year, ISMs continue to support these students by organizing fun events and serving as a resource for questions about U.S. culture and academics. 

Learn more about our 2017 ISMs below!!

Some things to expect from your mentor:

  1. Over the summer, mentors email their assigned mentees who are currently at home overseas. Emails contain important dates, information and reminders about moving in to begin the first year at the University of Rochester. These emails also serve as a platform to communicate with the other international students assigned to your ISM and are an opportunity to ask questions you may have about the University, the local community, or the U.S. in general.
  2. International Move-in Day! All ISMs will assist international students move into their dorms. The first day also offers a chance to meet and bond with ISMs and fellow new students. 
  3. Throughout the year, ISMs plan group dinners and other fun and/or helpful group events. ISMs will also periodically check-in by email, to make sure your first year at UR is going well!
  4. As a group, ISMs coordinate events for the greater University community. We hope that all their mentees will attend these events to show their support!

Please feel free to contact any of the mentors if you find something in common after reading their bios below! All of the mentors are available to answer your questions, but you will be specifically assigned to one ISM.

Senior ISM


Nola Yang

Class of 2018
Email: nyang8@u.rochester.edu
Hi everyone! My name is Nola Yang, I'm from Syracuse, NY in the Class of 2018 majoring in Chemical Engineering. Outside of the classroom, I'm a Meridian, student supervisor in Carlson Library, cofounder and vice president of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE), and senior interviewer for Admissions. This summer I'll be participating in the Eisenberg Internship, which is run by the UofR Chemical Engineering Department where I'll be doing research in Tenhaeff Labs.

My Advice:

  1. Take the time to explore the city of Rochester! The city of Rochester has amazing restaurants, has an awesome music scene, great festivals, and just a little of something for everyone to love.
  2. Join a couple of student organizations that interest you. You'll be surprised how much you'll feel like you're a part of campus already just by joining a club!
  3. Try to go to as many of the Orientation events as possible! You'll learn a lot about our resources, meet a lot of new friends, and find a lot of free food.

ISM Advisory


James Yarberry

Class of 2018
Email: jyarberr@u.rochester.edu
Hi, I'm James and I’m from Virginia Beach, VA. I’m a German major and Music & Linguistics minor. I spend most of my time studying, performing (Mariachi, URSO, NJR) and working out. I'm also pretty active in UR's Catholic Newman Society (e.g. Kairos, Stephen Ministry). This summer I'm studying abroad in Austria at the University of Vienna.

My Advice:

  1. Make friends with Americans. Elisabeth Gareis of University World News writes, "International students who make friends with host nationals have stronger language skills, better academic performance, lower levels of stress and greater life satisfaction."
  2. Attend office hours regularly. Office hours help you better understand course material and give professors the chance to meet and learn more about you.
  3. Create a pre-sleep routine (listen to music, watch TV, etc.). Letting your brain relax before bed each night will lead to better sleeping habits and give you the strength you need to stay focused throughout the day.

ISM Leader


Naomi Hollo

Class of 2019
Email: nhollo@u.rochester.edu
Hi! I’m Naomi and I’m a rising junior here at the U of R. This is my second year as an ISM and I’m so excited to meet you all! I’m an Epidemiology major with minors in French and Spanish. I’m the president of the UR Club Water Polo Team and I work at the Saunders Research Building at the NCORPs base. In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with my friends, working out and reading for pleasure. I can’t wait to meet all of you in August!

My Advice:

  1. Get involved on campus! Whether you are a pro looking to continue an activity or a newbie looking to expand your horizons, UR has lots to offer in the way of club sports, arts and much more.
  2. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your ISM, RA or D’Lion. We’re all here to help you so if you need something, from tips about where to get the best late night food on campus to which building has comfy chairs to study in, ask us!
  3. Take a deep breath! I remember how stressful the move-in and transition process was for me but there are so many people to help you and it all will work out so take time to enjoy your first couple weeks of college!

ISM Leader

Kailin Zhuang

Class of 2019
Email: kzhuang2@u.rochester.edu
Hi there! My name is Kailin and I am originally from Shenyang, China. I am majoring in Brain and Cognitive Sciences with a minor in Psychology. On campus, I am involved in GreenSpace, Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity, and also work as a research assistant. Additionally, I participate as a program assistant at the Paul Burgett Intercultural Centre. In my free time, I love doing yoga, running, and travelling with my friends. I am really looking forward to meeting all of you!

My Advice:

  1. Dress in layers and use the tunnels!
  2. Grades are important but don’t worry too much about it. Take some fun classes. Keep an open mind and enjoy your college life!
  3. Get involved and ask questions! Go to office hours, check out different student organisations and try new things. And whenever you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask!

Simran Arya

Class of 2019
Email: sarya2@u.rochester.edu
Hi Everyone! I'm Simran and I'm from Long Island, New York. I'm majoring in Biology and Health, Behavior, and Society. I like to fill up my free time with music, either by practicing violin or heading over to Eastman for singing lessons. Here at the U of R, I'm a member of the Refugee Student Alliance and the Hindu Students Association. I look forward to meeting you all in the near future!

My Advice:

  1. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Requesting assistance can feel intimidating, but don't let that stop you from reaching out to professors, advisors, and even other students when you need to. Most people are very happy to help, or at least point you in the right direction!
  2. Take time to explore campus. It's not that huge but it is full of hidden gems. Get an idea of where all the dining halls, libraries, and other important buildings are so you can form a good mental map of your home away from home.
  3. Get involved on campus! Try things you have always loved and also try things outside of your comfort zone. You never know what new interests you might find here!

Sylvester Benson-Sesay

Class of 2020
Email: sbensons@u.rochester.edu
Una Kushe? That is Krio for "how are you?" Krio is the lingua franca in Sierra Leone, where I am from. I spent most of my life in Sierra Leone but for the three years prior to Rochester, I did my Internationa Baccalaureate (IB) in United World College Southern Africa (UWCSA), Swaziland and volunteered in Lomé, Togo. The University of Rochester is the best decision of my life so far and currently, I am a Biomedical Engineering(BME) major. I am also active on campus, getting involved in photography, the Pan-African Student Association (PASA) and club soccer.

My Advice:

  1. Try new things to challenge your comfort zone.
  2. Surround yourself with the right people but at the same time...
  3. Meet new people with an open perspective.

Tanamaya Dahiya

Class of 2020
Email: tdahiya@u.rochester.edu
I am a rising sophomore from New Delhi, India pursuing a major in mathematics and a minor in statistics. On campus, I am involved in organisations such as the boxing club, Liberty in North Korea, and College Feminists. In addition, I used to work for Dining Services and will be a TA for Calculus IA (MTH 161). My hobbies include singing, playing the guitar, and watching sports.

My Advice:

  1. Don't get involved in way too many extracurricular activities - they could interfere with your studies.
  2. Don't stress - your health and happiness is much more important than your grades (and stressing out doesn't exactly help in getting good grades anyway)
  3. While it is fun to hang out with people from your country, try stepping out of your comfort zone a little and talk to people from all over the world!

Agustin Diaz Herrero

Class of 2020
Email: adiazher@u.rochester.edu
My name is Agustin Diaz Herrero. I'm from Mexico and Spain. I grew up in Mexico City and have been a Scout for 12 years. I love baseball and also enjoy watching a funny TV show. I believe laughter is the best thing we have to make this world Ever Better, so I'm always down to do something new and fun.

My Advice:

  1. Be open to new things. The people you're about to meet have amazing stories and are passionate about things you probably don't know existed (they will probably make you try them too!). Being open will definitely make your experience unforgettable.
  2. Remember that learning also happens outside of the classroom. Rochester is much more than just classes. The learning experience you're about to live goes way beyond the classroom. Every day you'll learn new things without noticing.
  3. Don't forget there's always people there for you. The most important thing for you to know in this first year is that you are not alone. There is a lot of people whose job is to make sure you're feeling well. Do not hesitate to contact them if you ever feel the need.

Petar Dinev

Class of 2019
Email: pdinev@u.rochester.edu
What's up everyone? I hope you are having a wonderful year so far. My name is Petar and I come from Bulgaria. Currently I am a rising junior and I plan on double majoring in Math and Computer Science with a German minor. I am also part of the UR Rowing team. I love meeting people from different countries and learning more about different cultures, so I can't wait to meet all of you!

My Advice:

  1. In the beginning join any club that sounds even a little bit interesting. It's an easy way to make friends and you will never know if something is for you until you try it.
  2. Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! While pulling all-nighters might sound super fun, it isn't! Try to manage your time in a good way, so that you wouldn't be forced to pull any all-nighters.
  3. Create a routine! College is so much easier if you have a routine. Also, always go over your notes after class. It takes less than half an hour, but it saves you so much time later on and you wouldn't have to cram everything just before a midterm.

Kyoko Imai

Class of 2019
Email: kimai3@u.rochester.edu
I am Japanese, but have lived in Abu Dhabi for 12 years, Tunisia for 3 years, and Myanmar for 3 years before moving to Rochester. I am majoring in neuroscience, minoring in international relations and clustering in french. I am part of the Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity, the Club Tennis Team and the Japanese Students' Association. I love reading, talking to people, swimming, playing tennis, dogs, going on hikes and doing service in the community.

My Advice:

  1. Don't be afraid to ask questions! Whether it be your friend, professor, a tutor, a mentor or a random person on campus when you're lost, help is out there IF you make the effort to reach out.
  2. Go to the activities fair and join some clubs that interest you. This could be something you have done for a long time and have a passion for or something that you've never had the chance to do, but would love to try. This is a great way to meet people you would otherwise not expect to meet!
  3. Balance and divide your time up well. Although academics are very important, it's always important to make time for yourself and time for you to take a breather. That also applies the other way around as well: It's easy to get caught up in all the freedom and activities available to you, but sometimes you just need to buckle down and study.

Sachi Inoue

Class of 2019
Email: sinoue@u.rochester.edu
Hi everyone, My name is Sachi and I am from Manila, Philippines, although I have also lived in China and Japan. I am a Microbiology major and hope to go to medical school in the near future. On campus, I am a brother of Alphi Phi Omega and volunteer through the Friends of Strong Program at Golisano Children's Hospital. Sugary drinks and meat are my vices. I look forward to meeting all the new international students in the fall and and can't wait for more international friendships!

My Advice:

  1. Don't be scared to ask any questions. If you don't know what tater tots are (like me), you're not alone!
  2. Embrace the differences. College is definitely different from home, but it also is a time to learn about other cultures while also sharing your own. Reach out to the domestic students and other international students who would all love to learn about your unique life experiences!
  3. Be yourself! If you don't like exercising or want to knit in your bedroom all day, do it. People will respond to the genuine person you are! There is someone for everything at Rochester.

Richard Kao

Class of 2019
Email: rkao@u.rochester.edu
Welcome to the Yellowjackets family! My name is Richard Kao and I am from Connecticut. I am majoring in Statistics and Financial Economics. Outside the classroom, I play violin in the school's orchestras, and I am involved in the Society of Undergraduate Math Students (SUMS), UR Actuarial, the badminton club, the table tennis club, and Habitat for Humanity.

My Advice:

  1. Go to office hours. Your professors and TA's are there to help you.
  2. Step out of your comfort zone and join some clubs you might not have thought about before coming here. Try different things and see if you realize any new interests.
  3. Enjoy the last days of sunshine when you arrive. Winter comes quickly.

Emily Kumpf

Class of 2019
Email: ekumpf@u.rochester.edu
Hi!! My name is Emily Kumpf and I am a rising junior double majoring in health policy and psychology with a minor in spanish. On campus, I am the President of Students Helping Honduras, and have traveled to Honduras twice for spring break (highly recommend! :) I am also a member of Women's Club Soccer and Chi Omega. I do research in the clinical psychology department, work in the health promotion office, volunteer at Bivona Child Advocacy center, and am going to be a TA for Psychology 101 next semester. In my free time, I love love love to run by the Genesee!

My Advice:

  1. Join clubs! Don't be afraid to get involved. Clubs and organizations on campus allow you to form connections with people who share similar passions.
  2. Don't spend all your time in the library. While school is obviously very important, college is so much more than just studying. So much of my own growth over these past two years has been outside of the classroom.
  3. Form meaningful relationships. With professors, with faculty, with alumni, with friends, with the person down the hall. College, while being the best years of your life, is stressful. Forming a support system to go to for guidance, mentorship, and support is crucial to be successful.

Gregoire Lier

Class of 2020
Email: glier@u.rochester.edu
Hello! My name is Gregoire Lier, and I am from France. I was born and raised there until I came to the University, and I will be a sophomore next Fall. I am studying Optical Engineering, and I am taking classes at the Eastman School of Music. Even though I take a different array of classes on both campus, I know there are still many things to discover here in Rochester.

My Advice:

  1. Don't buy your books until you absolutely know you need them.
  2. Bring objects or food that remind you of home. You can make your dorm room feel cozy and familiar.
  3. Go to class, sit as close as possible to the front of the class, and listen. This can change drastically from skipping class, or just sitting at the back and chatting during lecture.

Michael McCaffrey

Class of 2020
Email: mmccaff2@u.rochester.edu
Hey-O! My name is Michael ‘Mikey’ McCaffrey and I am a native of sunny Holiday, Florida. I am an International Relations and Spanish major and I hope to take every language class that I can. I love to knit, play trumpet, and listen to music. On campus, I am a member of the Model UN and the new Argentine Tango Club. Can’t wait to meet y’all!

My Advice:

  1. Everyone is in the same boat as you! Everyone is new and knows almost nobody so you are not alone.
  2. Don’t be afraid that you’re not like everyone else. You are you and that’s all that is important.
  3. Enjoy every moment of it! Every day will be different so enjoy each and every one.

Nabila Mella

Class of 2020
Email: nmellaga@u.rochester.edu
I was born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and just last year I came to the US for school. I am a rising sophomore majoring in International Relations with possible minors in Political Science and Health, Behavior, and Society (Public Health). I started dancing when I was 3 years old, and have not stopped ever since. I am currently involved in two dance groups on campus, Xclusive Step Team and BPG (Ballet Performance Group), and I'm also a member of SOCA (Student Organization for Caribbean Awareness) on campus. I'm looking forward to meeting all of you soon!

My Advice:

  1. Keep a monthly planner (I keep a digital one because it's easier for me, but it's completely up to you) and add your class times, meetings, homeworks/tests, clubs, and office hours to it. This way you will stay organized and make sure your events do not overlap.
  2. Stay involved! There are so many clubs and organizations on campus, that I can assure you will find an old or new one to be involved in!
  3. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, take the Rochester weather for granted. Buy waterproof and cozy boots (so that you don't slip on the ice. Trust me, I know) and a good winter jacket (if you don't have them already). Coming from a year-round tropical island, a heated blanket also turned out to be a loyal friend. :)

Aanya Myrie-Silburn

Class of 2020
Email: amyriesi@u.rochester.edu
Hi my name is Aanya Myrie-Silburn and I am an incoming sophomore here at the University of Rochester! I am currently double-majoring in Digital Media Studies and Political Science! I am from New York City, which is incredibly culturally diverse. I am excited to meet all of our International Students and introduce you to U of R culture, which is essentially just being your unique and amazing selves!

My Advice:

  1. Don't be afraid to make friends from different backgrounds!
  2. Prioritize your health: physical, emotional, and mental all included!
  3. If you have a problem, there is almost definitely a campus resource to solve it. Don't be afraid to ask for help!

Anthony Pericolo

Class of 2020
Email: apericol@u.rochester.edu
Hello mentees, and welcome to the University of Rochester! I’m Anthony Pericolo, and I’m a sophomore from Westfield, New Jersey. I’m an Electrical and Computer Engineer planning to do a double major with Economics. My goal is to attend graduate school for patent law and afterwards, run for public office. Here at the University of Rochester, I’m mostly involved in Student Association government and ResLife. My first year, I was Executive Director of Susan B. Anthony Hall Council and a Legislative Assistant in the Campus Services committee. Currently, I’m President of Residence Hall Association, and I represent the student body to ResLife. Last year, I was an EcoRep in Hollister 1, and this year I will be a First-Year Fellow in Gannett 5. I also love to debate, and I have traveled the country participating in the policy format. Besides my classes and extracurriculars, my interests are music, politics, reading, and playing video games. You’ll always see me with headphones playing rock or EDM while studying, and I volunteer for political campaigns back home. I look forward to meeting you and helping you make your first year “ever better!”

My Advice:

  1. Always go to TA or professor’s office hours, even if it is just to ask one question or to say hello. Your TAs are great role models because they went through the same tough course as you have and did really well. When you are in a giant lecture hall and your professor knows your name, you open the door to research and networking opportunities.
  2. Go out of your comfort zone and try new activities. There are around 300 clubs on campus, and you will almost always find a club that suits your most nuanced interest. For most people, this is the first time you are free to choose how you want to spend your time outside of class, so take advantage of it. If you think you might want to join a club, check out its general interest meeting.
  3. Study in groups. You learn best when you and your friends are banging your heads together over a tough problem set. Also, when someone doesn’t understand a concept and you do, explaining it to them in your own words reinforces your own understanding.

Dayvi Sandoval

Class of 2018
Email: dsandova@u.rochester.edu
Hey friends! My name is Dayvi Sandoval and I am a 4th year pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Epidemiology with clusters in Spanish and Mathematics. I am from The Bronx, NY and my favorite thing to do during the summers in NYC is going for a run along the parks while embracing the vibrancy of my surroundings. On campus, I am involved with The Student Alumni Ambassadors and work at both Carlson Library and Rush Rhees Library. I can't wait to meet each and every one of you soon and if you have any questions I would be more than willing to provide answers in whatever way possible.

My Advice:

  1. Never second guess yourself and always encounter new experiences with an open mind. You will discover more about yourself as a leader if you say yes to any sort of rewarding opportunity.
  2. You are not alone! There is a 99.9% chance someone else is walking in your shoes so do not be afraid to ask for help or seek additional support.
  3. Make sure to always try your best regardless of the challenge presented. You know yourself better than anybody else so even if you do not succeed you should be aware of the fact that your effort is a form of success, especially because you did not give up!

Khushbu Taneja

Class of 2019
Email: ktaneja@u.rochester.edu
Hey everyone! My name is Khushbu and I’m from Kolkata, India. I’m double majoring in Mathematics and Financial Economics here at the U of R. I love listening to music, and Coldplay is my favorite band of all time. I also enjoy studying at our wonderful libraries and trying different types of food around Rochester. I enjoy good books and good movies, and bad books and bad movies too. Looking forward to seeing you all in the Fall!

My Advice:

  1. As a UR student, you’re part of an incredibly vibrant and exciting community, and its people are your greatest resources. That being said, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help, even if your question might seem silly to you.
  2. Get to know your university and the activities going on around campus- are puppies over on campus to cuddle with and relieve stress before exam period, what movie is being shown on campus on the weekend, whether there are free snacks and other giveaways in celebration of a festival- that sort of thing.
  3. There’s a hill behind Susan B Anthony Hall. Go sledding there in the winter. You don’t even need proper equipment; a large piece of cardboard will suffice. Snow is unbelievably fun if you want it to be!

Mingxuan Teng

Class of 2018
Email: mteng3@u.rochester.edu
Hi, I'm Mingxuan Teng and I am from Beijing, China. My major is Applied Mathematics, and I plan to double minor in Japanese and Art history. I am the Business manager of Korean Percussion Group (Hon) right now, and you will definitely see us play drums in plenty of festivals! It's fun! There are a lot of interesting activities and curriculum here that you can discover! Can't wait to meet everyone!

My Advice:

  1. Get out of your comfort zone and step out of your dorm! It is always nice to know more people who are different from you. Joining organizations or clubs is always a good choice.
  2. Take advantage of opportunities and curriculum. You will be amazed by how many possibilities the university provides!
  3. If you feel confused, always ask for advice. Trust me, people here are friendly:)

Can Wang

Class of 2020
Email: cwang84@u.rochester.edu
Hi everyone! My name is Alice (Can in Chinese) and I'm a double major in Business and Japanese. I am also a head D'Lion and was an EcoRep. I'm super duper excited to share experience and talk with you all!!!!!!!

My Advice:

  1. Pay attention to posters, campus events and attend them!
  2. Break your personal bubble and say 'how's it going' to everyone:)
  3. Avoid using your mother language when there are people who don't understand near you.

Xiangyi Xu

Class of 2020
Email: xxu34@u.rochester.edu
Hi all!! Welcome to the big U of R family! My name is Lynne and I am from Jiangsu, China. I am an Applied-Mathematics major with a Business minor. On campus, I am involved in Trebellious Workshops and Actuarial Club. I work as a Chinese Social Media Ambassador in Admissions Office and I am also a tutor in CETL. I love reading, singing, writing and sleeping.

My Advice:

  1. Get involved. Everyone here likes to know about you and hang out with you. Involve in different activities on campus really help you fit in and make friends.
  2. Remember that you're here for a reason. If things don't work out for you, don't worry. You will be fine. There must be a way which will lead to success.
  3. Keep in touch with family and high school friends. While enjoying your brand new life in university, don't forget to talk with your parents and old school friends. They'd like to hear from you!

Mojin Yu

Class of 2019
Email: myu20@u.rochester.edu
Hi guys! My name is Mojin and I am from Beijing, China. I am double-majoring in Digital Media Studies and Psychology, and have a minor in Brain and Cognitive Science. I love singing and pop music, and that’s why I am a proud member of Vocal Point (the only all-female A Cappella group on campus) and NJR! I also really enjoy painting, graphic design and photography. Can’t wait to meet you all!

My Advice:

  1. Take good care of yourself! Make sure you get enough sleep and have a regular eating schedule. Health is the foundation of everything.
  2. Stay open-minded , and don’t be scared to try new things!
  3. Make some good friends – it’s not the quantity but the quality that matters.

Tong Yu

Class of 2020
Email: tyu17@u.rochester.edu
Hello everyone! I’m Ellie and I’m from Shen Zhen, China. Currently, I’m intending a double major in Business and Digital Media Studies with a minor in Developmental Psychology. On campus, I’m involved in Soñar Despierto (Daydream Foundation), UR Consulting, and Modern Languages & Cultures Undergraduate Council. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, and WELCOME TO U of R! :)

My Advice:

  1. Try to reach out and meet people from other cool cultural backgrounds!
  2. Check out various kinds of resources and opportunities provided here!
  3. Find ways to keep yourself in a good mood. Trust me, you will do better! :)

Xinge Zhao

Class of 2019
Email: xzhao31@u.rochester.edu
Hello and welcome to the big family of U of R! My name is Xinge Zhao, and I'm from Shenzhen, China. I'm doing a double major in Digital Media Studies and English, and I'm also an anthropology minor. I'm one of the international social media ambassadors in the Admissions Office, so if you haven't followed our WeChat account, remember to do so! I can't wait to meet you guys in August!

My Advice:

  1. Make sure that you are well-prepared for the winter! Down jackets, winter boots and good sense of direction in the tunnels are useful. It is true that Rochester has fascinating and breath-taking snow scenery, but winter here can be really cold.
  2. Make good use of the resources provided by U of R! For example, English Conversation Skill Program by ISO, study group and tutoring sessions are useful to improve learning skill in your first year.
  3. Be open and always try new things in college!