Graduate Student Spotlight | Anoushka Kondoj
“The supportiveness of people, like Amani Al-Dajane and Dean Boulton, really influenced me to choose Hood College for my master's degree.”
Anoushka Kondoj, M.S. Computer Science
- Computer Science (M.S.)
- Computer Science & Information Technology
Anoushka Kondoj is a current graduate student in Hood College’s M.S. in computer science program. Kondoj began the program in January 2023, and she is originally from India. We sat down with Anoushka to discuss her experiences with the international student VISA process as well as what advice she has for other incoming international graduate students.
Could you briefly describe your education and career background?
I am from India, and I completed my bachelor’s degree there. I came to the United States for my master’s degree. I originally got admitted into two schools in New Jersey, but I decided to move to Maryland because my aunt lives here. I also have severe chronic bronchitis and other health issues that prevent me from living in colder conditions.
What was it like to obtain an F1 Visa to study in the U.S.?
I was not given enough time to transfer from my original college to Hood College. I couldn’t go to the orientation at my first college due to coming down with the flu. These complications led my Visa to be rejected. I had to leave the United States, go to Mexico and re-enter to have another chance to study here.
How did you overcome the obstacles affecting the process?
I had plenty of issues to deal with. I had to go through the U.S.-Mexico border and was interrogated by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) due to my re-entering the U.S. They checked all of my documents again to ensure I did not have any forgeries. I ended up out of status due to the issues with my original college, and going to Mexico was not safe due to human trafficking in the area. I had to stay the night alone in Mexico in a hotel room before trying to re-enter the U.S.
Amani Al-Dajane was immensely helpful in assisting my return to the U.S. and obtaining my F1 Visa again. It was a very big risk to plead for another Visa. I was unable to get any help from my original school with my problem, although Ms. Al-Dajane reached out to them on my behalf.
Ms. Al-Dajane picked me up at the airport and said she would help me with immigration services and officials. She was really patient with me. She also got the dean, Dr. April Boulton, to talk to the dean of my original college, so she was also very cooperative and helpful in this effort.
Ms. Al-Dajane was like a motherly principal designated school official (PDSO), in a way. She was quick to respond to my emails and constantly made calls to help me. She ensured that I could study at Hood College and made me very comfortable with the process. She was very welcoming, even doing things like taking me to lunch after I re-entered the U.S. I couldn’t have done this without her.
What drew you to Hood College in particular?
My aunt and uncle researched people who re-entered the U.S. to help me. They talked to the CBP officer, but their offices were closed due to it being the weekend. The entire experience of crossing the border and then returning was lengthy and harrowing, with me traveling from Dulles Airport to San Diego to cross the border.
I couldn’t have done this without Ms. Al-Dajane, my aunt and my uncle. The supportiveness of people like Amani Al-Dajane and Dean April Boulton really won me over about Hood College. My aunt and I visited Hood College to get an admission. I had two days before classes started, but I was told about SpanTran, which was a faster way to apply for an admission.
When did you officially start classes at Hood College? When will you graduate?
I started in January 2023, though I officially began in February of this year. I will likely graduate in 2025, though this is my first semester so far.
Is there any advice or perspective you would like to share with other international students?
I would like to tell them to not wait for long. Do not expect people to be sweet to you. This is a new country to adapt to, and while my scenario is not the norm, you need to prepare ahead of time for admissions. Trust yourself.
Are there any interesting facts about yourself that you would like to share?
I am extremely nervous and introverted. It was very hard to help me get through all of this. My aunt and uncle helped me through my journey in spite of my extreme introversion, as did Ms. Al-Dajane. I am grateful to all of them for their help.
Inspired by Anoushka’s experiences or the Graduate School at Hood College’s support for international students? Ready to #GOFURTHER in your career? Learn more about Hood College’s graduate programs, such as computer science, by clicking here.