Rahel Berhane Araya from What’s Out in conversation with co-founders Selamawit Nicolai and Calvin Mwesigwa

RB: Thank you both for taking the time to talk to me today

Both:Thank you for having us

RB:  Your website has been getting a lot of attention from students here in Addis. What motivated you to start this platform?

C M: Having been international students, we had already gone through the gruelling process of applying and enrolling in a U.S institution. We understood that proper guidance and help with everything from college choices and college applications, to aptitude tests and visa interviews made a huge difference between success and failure.

SN: Going through that process we knew that many others would be going through the same . We decided to build www.internationalstudentcenter.us to help out students like us reach their education goals.

CM:  There are so many brilliant students that want to further their education abroad but either don’t know how to achieve their goal or fail

because they did not apply the right way .

SN: That is our inspiration. We strive to help students just like us achieve their dreams in the smoothest way possible. Both the student and their parents can relax knowing their application, will be done the right way giving them the best possible chance of getting accepted into their desired U.S institution.

RB: That is amazing to hear that your motivation is helping others. So how does it all work? Walk me through your process.

CM: Well the process is fairly simple. Students or parents go to our website www.internationalstudentcenter.us and sign up. After they verify their account, they log back in to complete their basic profile.

SN: The basic profile includes simple information such as a brief introduction about themselves and their academic transcript. This helps us to understand each student goals and come up with an individualized plan to ensure successful enrollment .

RB: So students apply to get into your program?

CM: Yes, we evaluate each student based on their major of interest and their grades. All of the students who have gone through our program since 2014 are enrolled in college right now and we try to ensure that we can help a student before we admit them into our program.

SN: What I failed to realize while I was in high school was that grades are relative. We can work with so many students and majority of whom are not straight A students. We have partnerships with several colleges that have a wide array of enrollment criteria which means that we’ll make sure that you get accepted.

RB : What happens after a student is accepted into your program?

SN: Once you join our program, you are immediately welcomed into our very own international student network. You gain access to fellow international students and previous graduates who act as mentors and guides providing advice to you throughout your time in the U.S.

CM: Students also get the opportunity to pick one of the three membership plans that we provide. We realize that students have different needs so we provide options to our students. Our plans include services like: transcript evaluations, paying college application fees, scholarship resources, and registering students for SAT and TOEFL.

RB: Do you have local representatives in Addis?

SN: Yes. Meron Tsegaye, our Head of Operations, and her dedicated team coordinate our activities in Addis. Meron is also a former international student and she is on ground helping students with routine tasks such as: acquiring their recommendation letters and transcripts and reviewing their essays. Her team meets students and their parents in person to tackle whatever obstacle they are facing.

RB: A lot of students worry about how to afford a U.S education. Do you help students with that?

CM: Definitely! We have a huge library of scholarship resources that is regularly updated and we match all our members to these opportunities. Academic grants and diversity scholarships are some of the ways that we help our students to reduce the cost of their U.S education.

RB: Looking at your website and student parent testimonials looks like you have been very successful in guiding your students through their desired colleges. What would you say makes you so successful.

SB: Firstly,I wish that the International Student Center existed when I was applying to college. Some of the questions covered in our free FAQ section would have saved me countless hours and heartache. Simple services like access to test study materials and not having to worry about credit cards to pay for the standardized tests, greatly simplify the application process and are hugely popular with our students. Our students also say that they are more confident since they are working with a friendly team of specialists working day and night to get them to their desired destination.

RB: That is truly commendable. You guys should be proud of yourselves for creating a service that impacts your community and your who!e town . Education is the key to development and success and you two have found a way to put business and education together . Thank you so much for your time.

Both: Thanks again for having us!