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FGCU attracts four siblings from Honduras

There are many reasons why someone might choose to come to Florida Gulf Coast University. For example, a student who is interested in environmental sustainability might major in environmental studies here. A group of friends who went to school in Lee County might attend FGCU to stick together through their college years, or a Bright Futures scholarship recipient could pick this university for its location in Southwest Florida.
But what would bring students from outside the United States?
The Tavels are four siblings from Honduras who chose to pursue degrees at FGCU. They all chose to attend the university while maintaining a permanent residence in Honduras, where they each learned English years before coming to the U.S. They each
have their own reasons for coming here, though one factor was important to all of them: the Latin American Caribbean Scholarship.
“The scholarship was really important for me because a lot of other schools don’t have something like that,” said Eduardo, the oldest Tavel sibling. Eduardo is a senior at FGCU who is double majoring in finance and economics and hopes to explore career opportunities in financial planning post- graduation.
Eduardo was the first to enroll several years ago, and since then, his younger siblings have followed in his footsteps and become FGCU students. Esteban, the youngest, is set to attend the university next fall.
“It’s kind of fun to be away from my parents for the first time,” Esteban said. “I’m going to major in civil engineering because I want to have a career as an engineer in the U.S. in the future.”
Nicolás is a junior who is majoring in marketing with a minor in advertising. His favorite part of the FGCU experience is the extracurricular activities.
“I’m a member of the Programming Board, and I’m actually going to be the vice president of it next year,” Nicolás said.
Jimena is a freshman majoring in journalism and minoring in French. She is the only female Tavel sibling and says she loves many things about her life here: the weather, the social environment and the opportunities. She writes for Eagle News to build her writing portfolio for her future career.
“My ultimate dream is to write for a newspaper or a news station after I graduate,” Jimena said. “Once I came to FGCU, some of the cultural changes were kind of hard to make, but I’m really grateful for the experience.”
Timothy Gjini is the associate director of International Services. According to Gjini, there are 180 international students from 50 different countries attending FGCU this year. He says the goal of International Services is to help these students transition to the American college experience and be as successful as possible.
“We try to help our international students acclimate to life at FGCU however we can,” Gjini said. “Siblings coming together is not too uncommon. We actually have two pairs of siblings from Venezuela, another from Hungary, and several others.”
How does International Services achieve their goal of acclimating new students?
“One way we do this is the Eagle I Ambassador program,” Gjini said. “Basically, a domestic student ‘adopts’ an international student by befriending them and getting them used to the school. The Tavels actually all used the Eagle I program, and I think it helped them become the great students they are today.”

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