When Nuria Madueno Morales traveled from her hometown of Lima, Peru, to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in January 2019, she expected to be on campus only one semester as part of an international exchange program. Now, nearly two years later, she is preparing to graduate from UW-Platteville with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, after finding opportunities and support on campus that made it feel like home.
“I was looking for a destination for my international exchange at a university that is very good in engineering, and UW-Platteville met all the requirements,” Madueno Morales said. “But then I really fell in love with how the professors teach at UW-Platteville. I enjoyed the dynamic of the professors. I learned a lot, and I started doing research on my own, because professors encourage you to seek more information, and that’s something I wanted to reinforce in myself.”
By the end of that first semester, Madueno Morales made her decision to transfer to UW-Platteville and complete her degree as an international student. She is one of 58 degree-seeking international students, representing 16 countries, currently studying at UW-Platteville. Madueno Morales said the community she found among other international students became one of her first support networks on campus.
“The International Club members made me feel like home, because we were all foreign students and at first we were all feeling a little bit out of place,” she said. “We met every weekend and we always had someone to ask about stuff. It is a very nice community and feels like a family. Even now, we’re still very close to each other.”
Soon, Madueno Morales’ support network grew beyond the International Club. She credits staff in the International Programs Office and many faculty for making her time at UW-Platteville successful – especially this past year, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[The International Programs staff] are always checking in and asking us how we are doing,” she said. “Especially given the circumstances, they have been paying very close attention to our mental health.”
Madueno Morales said her professors, especially her advisor – Dr. Dianne McMullin, associate professor of industrial engineering – also lent her a lot of support.
“I really appreciate that the professors went through all the difficulty [of transitioning to online and hybrid learning] and made sure we still have the best out of it,” said Madueno Morales. “At the beginning it was a little tough, but professors were always willing to help and support – especially given that my family was far away and my country wasn’t doing that good with the pandemic.”
The most memorable experiences she said she will take away from UW-Platteville are the opportunities she had to challenge herself, through research and her senior design capstone project. Madueno Morales assisted with research in the industrial engineering department, before eventually gaining an opportunity for cross-disciplinary research in the mechanical engineering department, where she studied piezoelectric materials with Dr. Edoardo Rubino, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
“That was a whole new experience,” she said. “I’m not a mechanical engineer, but I learned a lot. That was really nourishing, and I grew academically and professionally. My senior design class has also been really demanding, but at the same time I learned how to work as part of a multicultural team, and the professors always give the perfect tools to keep improving and get every deliverable done.”