Faculty and Staff Collaboration Brings First Puebla Student to Arcadia

By schwartzsa | February 16, 2011

In January, Oliva Veronica Ponce Xelhua became the first Arcadia exchange student from Universidad Popular Autonoma del Estado de Puebla in Puebla, Mexico. Thanks to a network of dedicated faculty and staff members, Xelhua is currently realizing her dream.

“I first met Dr. Michael during fall 2009 when Austin Landa, Vice-President for Advancement and Community Relations at UPAEP, notified me that Arcadia University representatives would be visiting our University,” she says. “I had been working with Landa since I began my education at UPAEP because he started a program that helps young people like me who do not have the economic resources to pursue an education.”

Aware of Xelhua’s tremendous potential and desire to share her unique perspective in the world, Landa introduced her to Dr. Steve Michael, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dr. Nicolette DeVille Christensen, Vice President of Arcadia’s College of Global Studies. Xelhua generously welcomed them to her home for dinner where they became quick friends.

“I told Dr. Michael of my desire to study abroad and he told me he would help me achieve my goals,” says Xelhua.

Michael put her in touch with Warren Haffar, Dean of International Affairs and Director of International Peace and Conflict Resolution, and Janice Finn, Associate Dean for International Affairs. They worked to give Xelhua the guidance and resources she required as she worked to increase her English skills to meet Arcadia’s exchange requirements.

“I had planned to come to Arcadia in Autumn 2010 but I remained in contact and worked hard to realize this great opportunity. Now that I’m here, I’m sure I will learn many things that will give me the tools to help my family and my community to achieve a better life.”

Currently, Xelhua is living in student housing with fellow exchange student, Jinah Park, who is from a partner institution in South Korea—Ewha Women’s University. However, Dr. Ana Maria Garcia, Assistant Professor and Chair of Sociology, is serving as Veronica’s host for the semester.

“While it’s important that Veronica have the experience of living with her peers, it’s equally important that she have a family in Philadelphia where she can have dinner, speak Spanish and unwind,” says Garcia.

Xelhua is enrolled in several business courses including an internship and SO220, Women Across the Globe, a sociology class taught Garcia.

Read more about Arcadia’s College of Global Studies new six-week program, Social Justice and Engaged Scholarship at UPAEP, where students become an integral contributing member of a unique rural Mexican community, La Preciosita.