Graduate Staff Spotlight | Vanessa Solis
"My mission is to help international students because I never received any help when I was completing my education as an international student myself. I have been trying to support students in all the stages, and it is very gratifying to see them graduate and accomplish their goals."
Vanessa Solis, Assistant Director of Graduate Admission
- Computer Science (M.S.)
- Information Technology (M.S.)
- Bioinformatics (M.S.)
- Cybersecurity (M.S., Certificate)
- Management Information Systems (M.S.)
- Computer Science & Information Technology
Vanessa Solis is an assistant director of graduate admission in The Graduate School at Hood College. She is originally from Ecuador and completed her Master of Music in Violin Performance at the Shenandoah University, and she recently gained her U.S. citizenship.
Could you briefly describe your education and the process that you took to gain citizenship in the U.S?
I came to the U.S. in 2014 as an international student with an F1 visa. I received a scholarship to study at Manor College. I loved it, but I was their only international student, and they were not ready to accommodate them. For example, the dorms were closed during major holidays, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, and I had nowhere to stay. I was very lucky to buy a small car, and I had to sleep in my car outside of Walmart during those holidays. During the summer, an amazing family hosted me, and I was able to spend two months with them while pursuing my graduate studies and working at the admission office doing my internship.
When I graduated, I used my OPT and applied with the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra. I was their librarian, and I am still part of the orchestra as a musician. This opportunity opened many doors, and I decided to pursue my master's degree in music performance at the Shenandoah University. I was able to complete my studies thanks to a scholarship and an internship as the orchestra manager. My dreams came true! I was performing with well-known orchestras around the U.S.
What drew you to Hood College? How long have you worked here?
After I graduated from the Shenandoah Conservatory, I was touring the country when I got a call in March 2020 about the cancelation of my concerts, and they were urging us to go back home because the world was shutting down. During the pandemic, there were no concerts, tours or shows, and I knew I needed to do something other than playing the violin. I had experience working in admissions, so I decided to apply to The Graduate School at Hood College.
I love the campus, and Hood College is very involved with the City of Frederick and the Chamber of Commerce. Even though I was coming from a completely different world, I wanted to experience an office job with a regular schedule. When I was hired to work at The Graduate School, I didn't meet the grad team until eight months after I was hired because of the pandemic. My training, events and all the communication were conducted fully online, and I was so thankful for the patience they had with me until I acclimated myself to this new position. I started working on May 4, so "the force has been with me" since then.
What is it like working at The Graduate School at Hood College?
I fell in love with the Hood College community, my colleagues and especially the students. My mission is to help international students because I never received any help when I was completing my education as an international student myself. I have been trying to support students in all the stages, and it is very gratifying to see them graduate and accomplish their goals. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my dear team from whom I learn from every single day. I am very grateful to have a home and a family at The Graduate School at Hood College.
What are your future dreams now that you are a U.S. citizen?
My future dream is to continue honing my office skills and finding more ways to support students when they decide to pursue their education at Hood College. I would like to work directly with government and private institutions that offer financial aid to students in need. I also hope to pursue a doctoral degree at Hood College down the road.
Would you like to share any fun facts about yourself?
As an international student, I did not know I was eligible to get a driver's license in the United States. I just assumed I was able to drive in the U.S. with my international driving license. One Friday evening, I was driving when a van crashed into my vehicle. When the police came, they told me I was not allowed to drive with my international driver's license, and they took me to jail in North Philadelphia. I stayed there a couple of hours until a friend came to rescue me, and then I had to appear in court a couple of days after to get my car back. It is now funny to look back on this situation.