Two international students at the University of Southern Indiana were recognized for their contributions to cultural awareness and their leadership and academic accomplishments at the annual USI International Graduates recognition ceremony on Thursday, April 25. Joel Tshite ’19 and Jerome Degbe ’22 were presented with the Outstanding International Graduate and Peace Ambassador award, respectively, by USI’s Center for International Programs.
“Both Joel and Jerome have taken their roles as USI Global Ambassadors very seriously from the moment they stepped foot on campus,” said Heidi Gregori-Gahan, associate provost for international programs. “Their unique stories of resilience and determination serve as an inspiration to our entire community, and it has been such a privilege and a true joy working with these extraordinary young men. Indeed, they restore our faith in the future of this ever-changing, interconnected and complicated world in which we live.”
Outstanding International Graduate
Tshite, who fled the Democratic Republic of Congo at the age of 6 with his family and found refuge in Zimbabwe before coming to the United States, was named the 2019 Outstanding International Graduate. He received a bachelor’s of engineering degree at the Pott College of Science, Engineering, and Education Commencement ceremony on Saturday, April 27. During his time as a student at USI, Tshite was a co-founder of the USI African Cultures club and volunteered with civic organizations and for charitable causes locally and internationally.
“I would not be here today if not for the strong and constant support from my friends, family and the USI community,” said Tshite in accepting his award.
In Tshite’s nomination, a faculty mentor said that he is “a very rare person, that has risen from the depths of probable despair to certain future success in the field of engineering, due to his intelligence, hard work, and determination.”
Degbe, a native of Cote d'Ivoire, was named the 2019 recipient of the Peace Ambassador award. The current president of the African Cultures club, Degbe has provided a voice and a passion for the representation of all Afrian countries and their unique and diverse cultures and traditions.
“The leadership of the USI faculty and staff gave me a unique opportunity to impact my future and the future of my surroundings,” said Degbe. “I came to USI not rich or famous, with no special talent or genius. I just came with my work ethic and my determination to give back to USI. I wanted to contribute to the establishment of diversity and be one of the voices and faces that are an ambassador of diversity.”
Degbe’s faculty nominator noted his “enthusiasm, positive outlook and energy are contagious and make him a joy to work with. He is sensitive to the needs and sometimes inhibitions of new international students and readily helps them feel at ease and welcomed to USI.”
The Peace Ambassador is awarded annually recognizes an outstanding international student whose actions and involvement in campus and community life have contributed to greater cross-cultural awareness and to increased understanding of the world, its peoples and its traditions.
For more information about the Center for International Programs, visit USI.edu/international.
Photo Credit: USI Photography and Multimedia
Joel Tshite '19 (L) and Jerome Degbe '22