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Study Abroad Program Opens Up STEM Opportunities for Brazilian Students

Adarley Grando, far right, poses during his junior year of studying computer science at UAlbany with, from left, Kenta Nakao, a two-year UAlbany exchange student from Japan, and fellow Brazilian students Rafael Araujo; Rodolfo Viana; Leonardo Gonçalves; Nathalia Cruz; Rafaella Silva; Eduardo de Barros. (Photo courtesy of Adarley Grando)

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 11, 2014) — For years, Leonardo Gonçalves de Oliveira of Santo Antônio da Platina, Paraná State, Brazil, aspired to study mathematics in the United States, but was unable to pursue his path due to financial circumstances.

Today, thanks to a program established in 2011 by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Gonçalves is one of 33 advanced science students from Brazil studying on a Brazil Scientific Mobility Program (BSMP) scholarship at the University at Albany.

Under BSMP, fully-funded Brazilian students are sent abroad for training in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

“I have had the best possible experience,” he said. “With access to all kinds of facilities on campus, I can focus solely on my studies without major concerns about food, housing, or anything else. “I think the program works very well, and a big part of this is due to how well UAlbany welcomes its students,” said Gonçalves, who plans to become a researcher and professor.

This sentiment is echoed by Adarley Luiz Grando Filho, a senior at the University of Brasilia, who spent his junior year abroad studying computer science at UAlbany in the same scholarship program.

Pam Terni of Brazil studying at UAlbany

Pamela Terni, a student from Brazil studying at the University this year through the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, proudly displays her UAlbany ID.

“I applied for BSMP because I saw a unique opportunity to study abroad in the best country in the world for my field of study, all sponsored by the Brazilian government,” said Grando, who studied at UAlbany in the 2012-2013 academic year, and followed it up with Summer 2013 internship at UAlbany's Center for Technology in Government, a leading research center in the field of digital government.

Grando knew English prior to arriving in the U.S., so the language barrier was not a problem. However, his biggest adjustment at UAlbany was housing. According to Grando, students in Brazil usually don’t live on campus sharing space with other students. “Initially it was an issue for me, but I soon discovered we were not all that different from each other,” he said.

Grando also plans on graduate school. At UAlbany, he received assistance with networking, a critical part of securing a good job or grad school placement. After his graduate studies, he hopes to work at a technology company.

Pamela de Almeida Terni, another undergraduate exchange student from Brazil, said her experience is helping her move toward her long-term career goal of working at a pharmaceutical or cosmetics company.

Terni, a biotechnological engineering major from São Paulo, said UAlbany offers classes like mass spectrometry that will be useful to achieving her goals.

In addition to the classes the Brazilian students take while here for two semesters, they are required to complete a summer academic training, either an internship or in research, anywhere in the United States. The training needs to be in the student’s chosen field of study and must be approved by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

Several of UAlbany’s BSMP students have been placed at venues that include Harvard Medical School, Cornell University and CNSE. Other BSMP students at UAlbany are pursuing majors in chemistry, physics, biological and biomedical sciences/environmental science, and information science (informatics), among others.

“Promoting scientific research is an important component of the program, in addition to increasing international cooperation in science and technology,” said Jacqueline Quevedo of the Office of International Education, the academic and program adviser to the BSMP students. “The program comes at a critical moment for Brazil and its most promising students.”

BSMP is jointly administered by the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and the Ministry of Education’s Federal Agency for the Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES). The IIE partners with these organizations to administer and facilitate this program with college campuses throughout the United States.

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Educationally and culturally, the University at Albany-SUNY puts "The World Within Reach" for its 17,500 students. An internationally recognized research university with 50 undergraduate majors and 125 graduate degree programs, UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as public policy, nanotechnology and criminal justice. With a curriculum enhanced by 300 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers. For more information about this globally ranked University, visit http://www.albany.edu/. For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit www.albany.edu/news/experts.shtml.