Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Texas A&M-Kingsville hosts best, brightest from Brazil to enter STEM programs

KINGSVILLE - October 25, 2013

Contact: Julie Navejar
julie.navejar@tamuk.edu or 361-593-2590

They have been in Kingsville about two months and have yet to see a cowboy with boots and a hat, riding a horse. This is what students from Brazil expected when they found out they were coming to Texas A&M University-Kingsville to study. And it’s not because the university sits at the front door of the King Ranch, but rather because that is what they thought all Texans look like.

A group of 31 Brazilian young people are currently learning English at the university’s English Language Training Center (ELTC). In the spring semester, they will transition into the regular classroom in various Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs at Texas A&M-Kingsville for two semesters before going home to complete their college degrees.

They are all part of the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, an on-going initiative of the Brazilian government to grant 100,000 scholarships to the best students in Brazil to study abroad at the world’s best universities. The Brazilian government calls the program Science without Borders.

This is the first year Texas A&M-Kingsville has been a part of the program that includes other universities like Cornell and Rutgers.

“Texas A&M-Kingsville has all the elements in place for a meaningful and successful experience for the participants. We are fortunate enough to operate on a campus with very strong STEM programs and a solid English as a Second Language program to help ensure an experience that is greatly beneficial for the participants,” said Marilu Salazar, executive director of the ELTC. “The average number of students placed on American campuses is eight. We are hosting more than 30 students, most of whom are studying different fields of engineering, but we have students who hope to join the College of Business Administration and the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy as well.”

Salazar said nearly 500 institutions applied for a grant to host the visiting scholars and only a fraction was selected. “Although the number of participants in the program is large, competition amongst American universities is fierce,” she said.

Guilherme Alves Arantes is a 21-year old electrical engineering major from Centralena in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. He is in his sixth semester of college and explained that in his country, it takes 10 semesters to get a college degree, not the typical eight in the United States.

He got into the program to help his career. “I have a better opportunity in the United States to get a quality education and learn about other technology,” he said.

“Yes, I am feeling homesick. This is the first time I have been out of my country.”

Ana Paula Bueno Zuza is 22 years old and she is from Sáo Paulo, in the state of Sao Paulo. She is in her fourth semester of an environmental engineering degree. She agreed with Guilharme, “It is so important for your resume. It is a good opportunity to learn English, learn about other cultures, meet new faculty and learn new laboratory methods.”

She said the students from Brazil are staying in different residence halls with roommates that are not part of the program. She and her fellow countrymen are getting used to the area and the way things are done in Kingsville and the United States.

Luíza Saleme de Menezes is a 20-year old electrical engineering student from Vitória, Espírito Santo. She is in her fifth semester in Brazil. She said the students were able to choose to come to the United States or other countries participating in the program.

Luiza said the food choices in Kingsville are different than what she eats in Brazil, which is a lot of rice, beans, salads and beef. She also finds South Texas pretty hot.

One food she and the others said they enjoyed and had not eaten before was waffles.  Breakfast in Brazil is usually bread and butter or cheese and ham. All the students said they enjoyed waffles and pancakes.

Renato Lemos Cosse, 23, is from Caxias in the state of Maranhão. He is in his seventh semester studying mechanical engineering.

Before coming to the United States, Renato started studying the work of American scientists and their technology. “These people are referenced all over the world, and here, I have access to the real source. I read research papers back in Brazil written by people in the United States,” he said.

Although all of the students receive a scholarship for participating in the program, in Brazil, college is paid for by the government for all those who want to attend. They take a placement test to help determine where they will go.

Public transportation is common in Brazil, even in small cities like Kingsville, and if they don’t have public transportation, they just walk. However, highways are better here.

They said they liked going to American football games and compared it to soccer in Brazil as the most popular sport. Football is not just a game, they said, but more of a show. All agreed, though, that soccer fans were crazier than football fans. On a somewhat sad note, they said the World Cup Soccer tournament will be held in their home country next year, but they will still be in Kingsville.

In Brazil, the residents speak Portuguese and a Real is their form of money. The drinking age is 18, the bars can stay open past 2 a.m. and open alcohol containers in public are the norm. However, drinking and driving is illegal.

Dancing in Brazil usually involves one partner, not a large group like in the Kingsville area. They do enjoy listening to American artists ranging from Metallica and Megadeath, to Katy Perry and Justin Bieber.


This page was last updated on: November 11, 2013