International students coming to CU to take part in our MS-Information Technology program are warmly greeted pre-arrival with an introduction from their International Student Liaison in the MSIT program, Josh Locklair.
Although Josh has been a longstanding faculty member at CU, the position of International Student Liaison is relatively newly created ( just two years ago) within the department. The position was designed to enhance the experience of international students at CU and Josh fits the bill perfectly. You’ll be happy to find he is available for advice, direction on academic paths and is an overall asset to the program. International Students at CU are fortunate to have him as part of their CU experience.
Which classes do you teach and what are some of the responsibilities on your plate as International Student Coordinator for the Computer Science Department?
In our undergraduate Computer Science program, I teach Foundations of Computer Science (CSC 150), Readings in Information Technology (CSC 180), Applied Artificial Intelligence (CSC 415), Human Computer Interaction (CSC 420), and a few other courses. In our graduate MS IT program, I teach Introduction to Informatics (CSC 501).
As a staff member, in what ways might international students expect to interact with you once they’re on campus?
I teach a section of CSC 501, which is the first class in the MS IT program. In my role as International Student Coordinator, I also act as a resource and advocate for all the international students in our graduate program… whether they have a question about program requirements, a concern about a class, or just aren’t sure who to talk to, I try to act as a “troubleshooter” to help them be successful.
What are some of your hobbies/special interests?
I am an on-again, off-again student of the Korean martial art of taekwon-do (I hold a first degree black belt). I also enjoy reading. Some of my favorite books are the Philip Marlowe novels by Raymond Chandler and The Lord of the Rings series by Tolkien.
You’ve been identified as a professor/staff member who is a favorite among international students. What do you do to make international learners feel at home and why do you make a priority of doing this?
I believe that one of the unique aspects of Concordia is the care that our entire community has for each and every student enrolled on our campus. College is a difficult, stressful time as it is, and our international students have traveled halfway around the world to study with us. Homesickness and isolation are real concerns for them. I want them to feel that they always have someone they can go to with questions or concerns, so I do my best to provide an example of Christian care and concern.
In your experience, what value have international students added to your classes/the Concordia experience?
Computer science and information technology are global disciplines. Whether you’re working for an international corporation or simply networking with your peers in the field, if you have
experience interacting with individuals from different cultures, it’s a big plus. I really believe that both our international and domestic students benefit from diversity in the classroom.
Something that’s been especially gratifying for me is seeing the international students participate in our programming competitions, or “hackathons.” Whether they are leading a team or a member of one, it’s really awesome to see them engaging with their American counterparts…. It’s a great experience and I think all our students really learn from it.
Describe your teaching style. What might international students expect to find if they decide to take one of your classes?
I hope they will find an instructor who is excited about the subject matter. Computers have had a huge impact on our world, and there is still so much potential for technology to improve lives. Plus, the employment prospects for our graduates are excellent. Hopefully, I can inspire my students to be as excited as I am!
I also really enjoy interacting with students. I came to Concordia because I would much rather be working with students directly than shuffling them off to a teaching assistant. I encourage students to ask questions, whether in class or during office hours.
Being a student in a foreign country can bring its fair share of challenges. In your opinion, is it worth it? Why?
I really believe it is. With the global reach of many corporations today, it’s very likely that your coworkers will come from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds. The more experience you have interacting with people from all around the world, the better.
Name one thing (and explain it) that sets Concordia apart from other options out there for international students? What might an international student expect to find when they step foot on campus?
Concordia truly is a Lutheran higher education community. At other institutions, it’s easy to fade into the background and become just another ID number. It’s rather difficult for that to happen here. The Concordia International Center does a great job of connecting our international students to the community at large and making Concordia into a “home away from home.”
How might pursuing a degree in your field of expertise be relevant/necessary for a global citizen?
Computers and technology have had a massive impact on our world. Every company and every industry has been impacted by technology in one way or another. If you want to be a productive member of the world economy, you really need some CS/IT knowledge – it’s getting harder to escape that fact.
What advice would you give to incoming international students?
First, I would say to expect challenges. Being a graduate student is difficult enough, and being a graduate student in a completely new country and culture is even more difficult. There will be a learning curve and initial struggles, but don’t be discouraged! There are many resources at CUW and many people who are committed to helping you succeed.
Second, if you need guidance or direction, don’t be afraid to ask for it! You shouldn’t feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness. All the professors in the MS IT program love interacting with students, and we’re especially happy to work with students who take the initiative to ask questions and seek help.
What do you want prospective international students to know about Concordia?
All of the instructors in our MS IT program have worked in the “real world.” I was in the IT field for nearly 11 years prior to teaching here, and many of my colleagues far exceeded that number. We have all dealt with the challenges students will face once they’ve graduated and are working in the industry, and that experience informs our teaching. Plus, Concordia is committed to helping students develop in mind, spirit, and body. We won’t just teach you the latest “state of the art” – we’ll help you prepare for the next big technologies that are just around the corner, and we’ll illustrate how a Lutheran Christian worldview informs everything we do as CS/IT professionals.
— Kai Goldenstein is a student writer and senior year Social Work major, minoring in German
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