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 2016 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.

Ian Manzi: Senior ISM

Class of 2018
Email: imanzi@u.rochester.edu
Hi All! I am from Kigali, Rwanda but I was born in Nairobi, Kenya. I enjoy music, swimming, and hanging out with friends. I am part of PASA, the African Acapella Group, URCF, and Trebellious's Workshop.

My Advice:

  1. Take advantage of all available resources. Even those you don't think you need.
  2. Your first year is a big thing and even so much more for international students. Just take it one day at a time.
  3. Academics are important but don't forget to have fun. You are here to learn much more than what you can within the four walls of a lecture hall.

Nola Yang

Nola Yang: ISM Leader

Class of 2018
Email: nyang8@u.rochester.edu
Hi there! My name is Nola and I am currently would like to major in Neuroscience with a minor in Psychology on the pre-medical track. I am from Syracuse, NY although I have spent some time living in China and even Rochester! I love to cook, so be prepared to be fed. I'm involved in working in Wilson Commons, our student union, as a Common Marketeer selling candy and making fudge as well as a Building Manager. I'm also involved in Residential Life as a Freshman Fellow. Additionally, I also participate as a research assistant for Psychology, Anesthesiology, and the Emergency Department at the U of R. I'm really looking forward to meeting you guys and please feel free to contact me if you have questions!

My Advice:

  1. Don't fret too much about grades!
  2. Don't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. Meet new people and try lots of different things.
  3. Don't be afraid to ask for help! Always know that there are resources on campus to help you whether it is about your physical or mental health, to roommate issues, to grades, and even help with resumes and internships!

James Yarberry

James Yarberry: ISM Leader

Class of 2018
Email: jyarberr@u.rochester.edu
Hi, I'm James and I’m from Virginia Beach, VA. I’m majoring in Biology and minoring in Music & Linguistics and German. In my free time, I take lessons at Eastman for piano and violin and I run along the Genesee. I also listen to music nonstop - Chopin, Walk The Moon, Twenty One Pilots and Mumford & Sons to name a few! On campus, I’m a member of the Music Interest Floor (MIF), URSO, and Mariachi Meliora, as well as Musical Director for No Jackets Required (NJR).

My Advice:

  1. ALWAYS go to office hours.
  2. Every morning, make a To-Do List and stick to it throughout the day.
  3. Set aside time to unwind (listen to music, TV, etc.) before going to bed each night.

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!

Rahima Bah

Rahima Bah

Class of 2017
Email: rbah@u.rochester.edu
Hey everyone! I am Rahima and I am from Maryland, the state where we can experience all four seasons over four days. I'm a junior majoring in Chemical Engineering and a flute player in the UR Wind Symphony. Music is my addiction. I love learning new skills or facts so I rarely get bored. Can't wait to meet you guys soon!

My Advice:

  1. Become a master at time management. Figure out what task you're going to tackle, when exactly you're going to tackle it and figure out how long it will take. Mastering this skill will allow you to find time to do other things that interest you.
  2. If you have a question, then definitely feel free to ask. If you're nervous about asking a question, then boom, easy way to get out of your comfort zone.
  3. Academics

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 freshman 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.

Lujain Felemban

Class of 2017
Email: lfelemba@u.rochester.edu
Hey new freshies! Welcome to the place where you'll have some of the awesome experiences of your life! My name is Lujain and I am a rising Senior, coming from Saudi Arabia. I'm majoring in Chemistry and minoring/clustering in Business and Studio Arts. Working in labs is also a big part of my life here at UofR so you'll find me in Hutch ALL the time! I'm involved with Todd theater costume shop and on set. In my free time, I enjoy attending Eastman concerts and Art galleries, swimming, skateboarding and horseback riding (with URET).

My Advice:

  1. Find yourself. Being here is an opportunity to discover other sides of yourself, new passions and parts of you that you didn’t know about. So be open-minded and embrace it.
  2. Believe me, you will find people who you can connect with, just try and be social and step out of your comfort zone.
  3. Join at least one club. It's the best way to get to know people. Either your cultural, religious or academic group. Try new sports and club activities. You might enjoy it :)

Thao Hoang

Class of 2019
Email: thoang7@u.rochester.edu
Hi, I'm Thao and I'm from Hanoi, Vietnam. I'm a Psychology major with a cluster in BCS. I'm involved in the Psychology Undergraduate Council and UR Rotaract. You may also find me performing in shows put up by the Ballet Performance Group. I love going places and I'm always up for trying out foods from around the world. Welcome and I look forward to meeting you all on campus!

My Advice:

  1. Be patient. Managing both your schoolwork and your social life can be tough in the first few weeks (or even months!), but keep in mind that that is totally normal! It will just take you some time to adjust to all the changes.
  2. Reach out to people, be it your roommate, new friends, your professors or the University's staff. They will help you navigate your life here and might also become your good friends.
  3. Don't forget to explore the city of Rochester!

Naomi Hollo

Email: nhollo@u.rochester.edu
Hi Everyone! I’m Naomi and I’m from a town right outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I’m a double major in French and Epidemiology. My passions include baking, working out and reading. In my free time I am involved in Club Water Polo, the Outing Club and I work at the Starbucks on UR’s campus. I’m look forward so much to meeting you all!

My Advice:

  1. Join clubs and activities. They are the best way to meet new people who share your passions.
  2. Don’t give up if a class is hard. There’s always help available!
  3. Reach out to your RA and the people in your hall. Many people form close friendships within their hall and it’s a great place to seek help if you ever need it!

Kyoko Imai

Class of 2019
Email: kimai3@u.rochester.edu
Hi, my name is Kyoko and I am from Japan, but have grown up in several different countries: Myanmmar, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. I currently plan to double major in Biochemistry and International Relations with a cluster in French. I am a member of the Club Tennis Team, the Japanese Students Association, Partners in Reading, Radiance, and Stem Initiative. In my spare time I enjoy exercising, reading, listening to music and spending time with friends.

My Advice:

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! It is tough transitioning from high school where teachers will often guide you every step of your way, to college where you often have to figure things out on your own. At times you may feel utterly clueless, but there are many people around you that can help you out. You just have to go out and ask them.
  2. Maintain a good balance. Make time to study and work hard, but also implement some time to blow off steam.
  3. Try new things and meet new people! There are always great events going on around campus or in Rochester. Go out and explore :)

Vinesh Jonnala

Class of 2017
Email: vjonnal2@u.rochester.edu
Hey Guys! My name is Vinesh. I was born and raised here in Rochester but I love to travel. Last semester, I studied abroad in the Galapagos Islands. I am a pre-med student double majoring in Genetics and Psychology. For fun, I love to play tennis and hang out with friends. I’m really excited to meet you all.

My Advice:

  1. Work hard, play hard! It is important that you find a good balance between studying and having fun.
  2. Stay in the moment! College is a great time so make sure to make the most of it.
  3. Try new things! Rochester is home of the Garbage Plate.

Emily Kumpf

Class of 2019
Email: ekumpf@u.rochester.edu
Hey! Welcome to the U of R! You're going to love it here, I promise :) My name is Emily and I'm a rising sophomore double majoring in health policy and psychology. On campus, I am a part of club soccer, the Healthy Monday Team, Students Helping Honduras, The Youth Resilience research lab, and Chi Omega Fraternity. In my free time I enjoy running next to the Genesee and exploring around Rochester with friends!

My Advice:

  1. Try to step out of you comfort zone and talk to people on your hall! Your hall mates have the potential to become some of your closest friends, and they are most likely just as nervous as you are. On the first day, don't be afraid to go up to a stranger and introduce yourself.
  2. Join clubs!! The opportunities to become involved on campus are endless and finding people who have the same passions you do can be extremely rewarding and extremely exciting :)
  3. Make sure to step out of your comfort zone, but don't forget to still keep in touch with family from home! While coming to college is an amazing experience, it is perfectly normal to feel a little homesick at times during the initial transition period. Those nerves are calmed with a quick call back home :)

Chantelle Lim

Class of 2019
Email: clim4@u.rochester.edu
Hi everyone! My name is Chantelle Lim and I am from Penang, Malaysia. I am majoring in Biomedical Engineering and I currently carry out research at the Nedergaard Lab in the Medical Center. On campus, I am an active member of the Running Club, Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) and Habitat for Humanity. Additionally, I also play violin in the UR Chamber Orchestra and take lessons at the Eastman School of Music! Outside of classes, I love traveling, baking and any outdoor sporting activities! If you have any questions about biomedical engineering, research opportunities for freshmen, music-playing opportunities, please do not hesitate to to email me!

My Advice:

  1. Dare to ask questions and always seek help during office hours if you have difficulty understanding the lecture materials. Professors are very approachable and they are very willing to go through the material with you again.
  2. Always plan out your schedule and start studying earlier, and do not start a paper the night before it’s due! It is always impossible to cram a whole semester’s worth of material in one night.
  3. Be proactive. There are so many available research opportunities and other resources on campus for freshmen to be involved in if you allow yourself to step out of your comfort zone and look for those opportunities.

Syed Muhammad Miqdad

Class of 2019
Email: smiqdad@u.rochester.edu
Hello friends!! I’m Muhammad Miqdad, an international student at the University of Rochester from Pakistan. Beginning my sophomore year the coming fall, I’ll be studying Chemical Engineering, Political Science, and Psychology. Outside of the class room, I am involved with the Students’ Association Government to improve Student Life at the university, while also promoting inter-cultural harmony on campus through different initiatives. I love cooking, soccer, and long-meaningful conversations about issues which make a difference in our lives. My ultimate goal is to democratize education in Pakistan and promote sustainable energy worldwide.

My Advice:

  1. Brace yourselves, college is coming. The best thing you can do is to not let college overwhelm you in the start, and make it through the first few months unscathed. If you struggle, which is totally fine, there are resources on campus to help you through it all. Survive, and you’ll be fine.
  2. Do not forget why you decided to attend college. While there are a plethora of opportunities on campus to grow, do not forget that education is your primary goal; it has to go hand-in-hand with all your out-of-class endeavors.
  3. Stay true to yourself. Culture shock is a very real phenomenon; it will make you question everything you believe in. Be open, be mindful, and stand your ground. After the initial wave of change, you will eventually find people on the same wavelength as you, who will help you become the best version of yourself, and define your epic journey through college!

Viet Duy Nguyen

Class of 2019
Email: vnguy14@u.rochester.edu
Hi guys, I am Viet Duy. I am an incoming sophomore, double majoring in Computer Science and Applied Math. I love solving sudoku puzzle, photography, and traveling. I also like to explore new things.  I am involved in Computer Science Undergraduate Council and the Refugee Student Alliance. Furthermore, you guys might see me around the Computer Science Building in Saturday and Sunday morning since I am a research assistant at Rochester Human Computer Interaction. Looking forward to seeing you guys on campus.

My Advice:

  1. Work hard, play hard.
  2. Feel free to ask. Everybody here is willing to help you.
  3. If you never try, you will never know. If you have not talked to a professor before, try! If you have never played frisbee before, try! Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Dayvi Sandoval

Class of 2018
Email: dsandova@u.rochester.edu
Howdy-do everyone! First and foremost, I am thrilled to embark on this new journey with you guys and I hope to learn as much about you as you will from me. I am from the Big Apple, specifically from the Bronx in New York, and I am pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Data Science with an application in Mathematics/Statistics. One of the many rewarding experiences I am devoted to since my arrival on campus is being a brother of Alpha Phi Omega simply because my fraternity empowers me to be a better person through others. It is through our community service involvement that I am able to discover more about who I am as an individual and my purpose in this world. My main career goal is to work for NASA within their aerospace technology department because who doesn't want to colonize Mars like Matt Damon?! Besides this, I am an avid lover of fashion, the arts, and photography and I intend to become America's Next Top Model in the near future. I can't wait to meet each and everyone of you soon and if you have any questions I would be more than willing to provide answers in whatever way possible. #BeFearless

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!

Christopher Tan

Class of 2018
Email: ctan8@u.rochester.edu
What’s up everyone? My name’s Chris and I’m from Austin,Texas. I’m currently studying Religion and Economics. On campus, I’m involved with Student Government, Club Tennis, and I’m hoping to start my very own Hacky Sack club next semester. In my free time, I like to meditate, play squash and occasionally explore local nature trails. If you have any questions, comments, or just want to say I, feel free to contact me.

My Advice:

  1. College goes by fast! Savor each moment and learn to stay in the moment. In college, you always worry about GPA’s, internships and jobs, but you can’t spend that entire time thinking about academics.
  2. Spice up your life by keeping an open-mind and be willing to venture outside of your comfort zone.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help. Everyone on campus is willing to go out of their way to help you.

Khushbu Taneja

Class of 2019
Email: ktaneja@u.rochester.edu
Hey, you guys! I’m Khushbu Taneja and I’m from Kolkata, India. I’m majoring in 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 foods. I love peanut butter, and am an ardent believer in retail therapy. I enjoy good books and good movies, and bad books and bad movies too. I love exploring new places, and recently rediscovered the magic of Michael Jackson. I can’t wait to see you guys this fall! Lastly, I’m funnier than this bio gives me credit for, I swear.

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 a 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 that the university provides!
  3. If you feel confused, always ask for advice. Trust me, people here are friendly:)

Michaela Wentz

Class of 2017
Email: mwentz@u.rochester.edu
Hello Everybody! I'm from Rochester, Minnesota (yes, I know. The other Rochester). I am majoring in Chemical Engineering and have a minor in Classical Civilization. When I'm not studying, I enjoy working out, listening to guest speakers, and spending time the chapel. I love exploring new places and learning new things and am always down to go on an adventure.

My Advice:

  1. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Whether you turn to your RA, your professor, the lady in the dinning hall, or a classmate, people are always willing to give you advice and will be impressed that you have the initiative to ask for guidance.
  2. Get involved! You may be here for an education, but you are also here to learn more about yourself beyond the classroom. See if there's a club that can help you do that thing you've always wanted to do but never had the opportunity. Clubs are also a great way to meet new people.
  3. It's okay to be homesick. This is a new place for everybody. Even if they may not show it, everybody is going to miss their home at some point. Just don't let your homesickness prevent you from trying new things.

Nathaniel Woodard

Nathaniel Woodard

Class of 2017
Email: nwoodard@u.rochester.edu
My name is Nate and I'm from Buffalo, New York. I am a junior at the university. I enjoy music, sports, movies and food! This is why I am a member of Trebellioys, NJR, Wrestling Club, and Cinema Group and also why I spend so much time in the dining halls.

My Advice:

  1. Keep an opened mind and embrace new experiences
  2. Find your study place at the start of the semester (and also find some back-up places as well)
  3. Don't be afraid to reach out for help if you need (and even if you don't)

Yang (Sophie) Xue

Class of 2018
Email: yxue7@u.rochester.edu
Hi! My name is Sophie and I am from Shanghai, China. I am majoring in Chemical Engineering and have a cluster in Music Theory. I am also the Fundraising Chair of the Chinese Student Association. I am a huge fan of Brit Rock and Alt Rock. I also have a slight obsession with Marvel movies.

My Advice:

  1. Make sure you know how the tunnels work! Trust me, you'll need them in the winter.
  2. When in doubt, ask! Asking does not mean you're not smart; asking means using a shortcut.
  3. This is cliche, but be open and get involved. Go to concerts, get involved in clubs, attend community weekends and so much more! Work hard and mingle well, that's the best way to make the journey worth it.

Qidi Yang

Class of 2019
Email: qyang11@u.rochester.edu
Hi everyone! I'm Qidi and I am from Taiyuan, China. I am Biochemistry major and minor in Psychology. I enjoy cooking and food. I'm obsessed with some Korean drama at some point and may have a cluster in Korean in my sophomore year. I am a general member of Hatha Yoga and PAWS. I'm looking forward to meeting you all!

My Advice:

  1. Do not worry about anything before you begin to do it. You are the best person you can count on and be confident about your ability.
  2. Do not push yourself too much and give yourself more time. You may feel overwhelmed and believe everything is determined to against you. But don't worry too much and everything will be fine at last.
  3. Be familiar with the diverse resources on campus and do not hesitate to use whenever you need them. People here are very friendly and approachable. They will always be here to help you both in study and in life.

Tianhao Yu

Class of 2019
Email: tyu14@u.rochester.edu
Hi there! My name is Tianhao Yu. I’m from Shenyang, China. I’m a Chemical Engineering major and I may pursue a minor in biology. I am interested in photography and skiing. I am also a member of AICHE and PAWS. I can’t wait to meet you all!

My Advice:

  1. Explore the resources around the campus. You may need them at some point!
  2. Be familiar with the tunnel system! You are going to appreciate it at winter.
  3. Balance your time properly and try to enjoy your freshman year as much as possible!

Xinge Zhao

Class of 2019
Email: xzhao31@u.rochester.edu
Hello and welcome to join the big warm family of U of R! My name is Xinge Zhao and I’m from Shenzhen, China. I’m a history or anthropology major with dance minor, and I’m also interested in Digital Media Studies. I’m working in admission office as the Chinese Social Media Ambassador and also involved in T.O.P Dance Group and Agape Christian Fellowship. 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 tunnel are useful. It is true that Rochester has fascinating and breath-taking snow scene, 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 session are useful to improve learning skill in freshman year.
  3. Be open and always try new things in college! For me, I enjoyed dancing but had no performance experience before college, and now I have performed for several times on stage, and I can tell how wonderful that is! Also, joining clubs would be a good way to make new friends.

Kailin Zhuang

Class of 2019
Email: kzhuang2@u.rochester.edu
Hello everyone! I’m Kailin and I’m from Shenyang, China. I’m a BCS major with probably a Philosophy minor. I’m involved in Alpha Phi Omega, Kappa Alpha Theta, and BCS & Neuroscience Undergraduate Council. Additionally, I’m also a research assistant for BCS here at U of R. Welcome to Rochester! And please feel free to contact me if you have any questions! :)

My Advice:

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