Center for International Programs, Academics

This year's freshman class of international students is larger and more diverse than any class in College history.

The question Anuk Siyambalapitiya '25 (below) hears the most is, "Where exactly is Sri Lanka?" He explains that home is a small island country just southeast of India. It's likely few Saints on campus have ever been to Sri Lanka. In fact, Siyambalapitiya is the first person from Sri Lanka to ever attend Siena.   

"It is something to be proud of, coming here and getting that first experience, and hopefully I can pass that down to other Sri Lankans. Just being international and studying in the U.S., there’s pride in that accomplishment."

Siyambalapitiya is one of 53 international students on campus, the largest cohort in Siena history. The Saints hail from 25 different countries, including four nations represented at Siena for the first time: Sri Lanka, Albania, Austria, and Mozambique.

Siyambalapitiya found Siena during a Google search of American colleges in the Northeast. He read about the scholarship guarantee, and then discussed the option with his college counselor who endorsed the choice. Fortune Iheanetu '25 (below) was first attracted to Siena because Lindsay King, associate director of international recruitment, was the only recruiter who showed up on time to the virtual college fair. Iheanetu is the first Saint from Mozambique, located in southeastern Africa.    

The international students participated in a two-day orientation in late August, that included a trip aboard the Minnie Ha Ha steamboat on Lake George. Iheanetu said the opportunity to bond with other international students experiencing the same thing makes the adjustment to college life in America so much easier. 

"I was brushing my teeth, and that's when I met my closest friend. There are people joining me from all over the world, and we have so much to share with each other. It's a really nice feeling."

In all, Siena is now home to 115 students from 51 different countries. 

"These students come from a wide range of backgrounds, and bring unique life experiences and worldviews to our little corner of Latham. Though they're all quite different from each other, these students all have the same aspiration: to be on Siena's holistic, transformative journey and to earn an  Education for a Lifetime."

Susan Ambrose, assistant director for international student services

Ted Joseph '24 is in his second year as a Saint, but because of the pandemic, this is his first year on campus. Originally from Haiti, he studied remotely last year, which was a challenge for most people, but particularly for Joseph. 

"Last year was not easy. In Haiti, we have people who use weapons to hurt people. I was studying while trying to protect myself and my family. It sometimes felt like I was at war.

There are a lot of kidnappings. They target people who have money. Half of the population lives in fear of these attacks. Many students can't study because of insecurity. They want to study, they want to learn something - that's why studying at Siena is a really good thing for me. I was one of the best students in one of the best schools in Haiti. I earned this opportunity, and I'm happy with my choice.

I talk to my family daily: my mom, dad, two brothers, and three sisters. I'm answering calls all day long. But I'm also making new friends. It's pretty amazing here. Everyone is friendly, even though I don't open up easily. They talk to me, and they drive me to join them and invite me to be friends."

Ted Joseph '24