When Sridhivya Kumar first moved to the United States, she hesitated to order from an American coffee shop, dined mostly on native Indian food and felt uncertain of how to manage public transportation.
Today nearly three years later, Sri, as her colleagues know her, laughs at her early insecurities. She confidently orders her regular Caramel Macchiato coffee and dines at her favorite burrito restaurant. She’s even shed public transportation for a driver’s license that enables her to drive to the University of Mary Washington Stafford campus for night classes to earn a master’s degree in Management Information Systems.
“I love information systems,” said Kumar, who earned a bachelor’s in commerce from Madras University in India. “I get to talk to people in real-time technology who operate software, know how to build things, exchange ideas, approach problems.”
Kumar was born in Tiruppur, India, before moving to Northern Virginia. She was drawn to UMW’s Master of Science in Management Information Systems for its flexibility and convenience. Kumar expects to finish her degree by next summer.
Having learned to speak English at an early age, Kumar quickly adopted American culture. Still, she sticks to her roots. Every morning, she makes a traditional Indian breakfast of Idlis or rice cakes before going to the library to study for her classes or to go shopping.
Kumar appreciates the American education ideal embracing the pursuit of an education at any age. She also likes the open discussions that take place in the college classroom.
She even continued classes while in India last summer. While there for nine weeks, she took a strategic management class at UMW online.
“Kumar managed the summer class while traveling out of the country and visiting with family and with limited Internet access,” said Adjunct Instructor Mark Cohen who taught the course. “She displayed excellence with time management skills as well as with her academic work…. I expect her to do well in the workforce.”
Kumar read online lectures, chapters, and then completed assignments, which included a research paper, all from her laptop in India.
Besides the faculty, one of the best parts of taking classes at UMW for Kumar is the knowledge she gains from doing group work in class with students who already work in the field.
“The people who you are studying with have real-time knowledge” she said.