Meet one of our staff workers, Stefania!
From Colombia to the U.S.
Originally from Colombia, Stefania Arias Cifuentes first came to Missouri State University in January 2015. At the time, she had been studying Finance and International Business at Universidad Tecnológica de Bolivar. Then, she traveled to the United States to take senior classes at MSU where she later returned for her Masters in Project Management. After taking classes on innovation, leadership, and finances, Stefania graduated with her Masters from MSU in May 2017.
From Student to Staff
Still a student, Stefania got a job as a front desk assistant in the International Services department. Later, she received a Graduate Assistantship working with another department. This position eventually led to her current position as the Admissions and Logistics Specialist for the Special Programs department at the English Language Institute.
Today, Stefania works behind the scenes for many of the programs at the ELI. She communicates with students before they come to the U.S., coordinates field trips, plans housing and meals, and checks on payments. Basically, she makes sure that our programs run smoothly and that everyone has everything they need. She is respectful, caring, and passionate about her job. From academic to professional life, Stefania is truly an inspiring and valuable member of our team.
Here are some interview responses from Stefania:
What made you decide to do Finance and International Business?
“When I was 14 or 15, I used to watch this reality show called ‘The Apprentice.’ …. There was, like, this girl. She was participating and she said, ‘I have a Bachelors degree in International Business.’ And I was like, whoa, is that a thing? Because I guess it was kind of new at that time…. Since that time, I was really interested in that.”
What made you decide to do Project Management at MSU?
“[When] I came here, at the beginning, I first wanted to do an MBA…. I looked up the classes and I was like, I don’t know if I wanna do it right now because I feel like MBA’s a general picture of business. So, I searched on the MSU website at all the masters they have, and I found Project Management. And I took the classes and everything and I was like this seems like really fun.”
What is your favorite part about your job at the English Language Institute?
“I think that there’s more than one actually. I guess the most important part for me is like what we do is something that the students will always remember and we change their lives in a way, even though it’s like short-term. I think they are just getting this experience away from home and they grow as personal, professional, or anyway possible when you get away from your country. So me being able to help them to have all these experiences is the best outcome, like my favorite part.
I also enjoy the work environment because I feel like, yeah, we work together, but we’re also friends and we support each other and we communicate pretty pretty well. So, I guess finding that in real life is hard….
I also have had opportunities to grow as a professional and in a personal perspective, because before I was an assistant. I was just doing kind of like support tasks, and now they give me the opportunity to have more responsibilities, and if I have an idea, I can just communicate that idea, and then if it is feasible to do it, they will try it. So, it’s good to feel like they hear your suggestions.”
What advice do you have for English language learners?
“My first advice for the students is stop being afraid to talk because that’s the way you learn….
Take the opportunities you have. Get out of your comfort zone. You never know if you’re gonna have this opportunity in the future, so just take the most out of it and have fun and don’t be afraid to do stuff.”
What advice do you have for pursuing dreams?
“One thing that I think is my main interest in that I’ve just learned a couple months ago, it’s do not be afraid to fail. I think before, like, maybe before you have dreams or you have goals, but then, like, you think, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get there,’ or ‘I don’t have the money,’ or ‘I don’t have the experience.’ But I think you just gotta try it, and you can’t be afraid to fail because it’s common. Maybe we have this perception like, if you are going to be successful, you don’t need to fail. Well, actually, you need to fail to success and to grow as a person and all of that…. If you fail, at least you’re learning and you will do things better in the future.”
For more information about Special Programs at the English Language Institute, please visit: