by Sandy Gholston - May 21, 2010
Luzia Tartari, the globetrotting member of Ferris State University's International Center staff, is a symbol of the University's commitment to outreach beyond the nation's borders.
A worldwide traveler, Tartari is a tireless worker with a mission to put information about Ferris in the hands of prospective international students and their families. As part of her recruitment-abroad effort, Tartari has traveled to Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama in Latin America; Belgium, France, Germany, Russia and Turkey in Europe; the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait in the Middle East; China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam in Asia; and Canada in North America.
That history represents a busy and ambitious schedule designed to inform prospective students about the many great things Ferris has to offer.
"I have been on travel between 12 to 15 weeks out of the year, for the past two years, trying to establish connections with students, high schools, recruiting agencies, colleges and universities abroad," Tartari explained.
The role of an international recruiter differs from that of the more traditional domestic recruiter, according to Tartari. In appealing to international students and families, recruitment goes beyond a simple list of programs and general information. Tartari says she oftentimes must sell, to students and families, a more realistic portrayal of the United States. Images abroad, about the U.S., sometimes are heavily influenced by television and movies -- some of which is real while some of it is not so realistic. Thus, selling Ferris' strengths to a student from Brazil, China or UAE typically differs from the approach of selling the University to prospective students from areas like Chicago, Detroit or the Upper Peninsula.
Whether Tartari speaks to students and families face-to-face, by phone, via e-mail or through traditional "snail mail", early messaging is important. The old saying: "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." In some ways, that adage holds true for international recruiters.
"I am the first point of entry for international students," said Tartari, who also serves as advisor to on-campus Ferris student organizations such as the Hispanic Student Organization and the International Student Organization. "International recruitment is pretty much about relationships. International students are looking for a place that they can feel good about as a destination. It's not just academics."
In some ways, international students are no different than the traditional students Ferris recruits. Like students from Michigan high schools, international students have interests in specific programs (typically business, technology, computers, welding and surveying); they want a place that provides social comfort and want a home away from home that is safe.
Tartari finds that, for some international students she encounters, a city and area the size of Big Rapids is a perfect fit -- in contrast to universities located in larger metropolitan areas.
"It helps that we're a small town and a safe area," Tartari said. "For many students abroad, safety is a concern. Big Rapids is different than the image they get of the U.S. from Hollywood. That is something that Ferris has in its favor. At Ferris, we can show students they are going to be safe and feel welcomed."