Paola Giammattei

Paola Giammattei is a chemical engineering major from El Salvador and very active on campus. She shares why she chose to attend Case Western Reserve, and how her experience has changed her view of the world and given her a new sense of confidence as she plans for her future. 

Why did you decide to study at CWRU?

I decided to study at CWRU because it offered me experiential learning opportunities from day one. Ever since applying for admission, I considered CWRU a perfect match. I knew I would be welcomed and challenged here. 

What is your favorite thing about studying at CWRU so far?

My favorite thing about studying at CWRU is the collaborative learning between students and professors. Additionally, studying at CWRU prepares me for success. I love the challenging but collaborative environment.

What do you like most about living in Cleveland?

What I like the most about living in Cleveland is the seasons. Back home we only have two seasons and that makes me appreciate the fall and the spring. 

How has your involvement in multiple campus organizations helped you as an international student?

It has definitely opened my eyes to new experiences and backgrounds. I have been able to contribute from my experiences but I also have learned from others. Getting involved in campus organizations also made my transition smooth when I was a first year student. It is what made me feel connected to CWRU and made me want to do more for its people and the community.

What obstacles did you think you would encounter when you were planning to study in the U.S.? If you did encounter them, how did you overcome those obstacles?

The obstacles I knew I would encounter were getting used to a new environment and having to speak a different language all the time. The way I overcame those obstacles was getting involved as much as I could through different organizations and groups that reminded me where I come from and what I want to accomplish. Additionally, I learned that it is okay to ask for help and that your friends will always be there to welcome you.

How has your learning experience at CWRU been impacted by the pandemic?

It was definitely a hard time for everyone. However, staying connected with my friends made it a lot easier. I was in Cleveland during the remote Spring 2020 semester and went back home for the Fall 2020 semester. It was nice to have those accommodations because I got to study while seeing my family every day.

How have you personally adapted to the pandemic and what have you learned about yourself?

I adapted by learning how to do crochet and spending more time outdoors. I also adapted by accepting that it is okay to give yourself the time you need to move on. Something I learned about myself is that attitude is everything! It is up to us to make the most out of a terrible situation. The sun will always come out the next day.

What are you most looking forward to during the 2021-2022 academic year at CWRU? 

I am looking forward to in-person classes! I love collaborating with people and engaging in discussions. I also like to have in-person interactions with faculty. Having in-person events for SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers), AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers), ISAC (International Student Advisory Council) and Greek Life is just wonderful. 

What are your career plans, and how do you think living and studying in another country will help you in your career?

Currently, I’m inclining towards attending graduate school to get a PhD in Biotechnology or Chemical Engineering. I would also like to work in industry once I have completed all degree requirements. I think living and studying in another country has given me many networking opportunities and skills. One skill I really value that I obtained from my international experience is confidence and independence. Those are key for any career and I am so thankful to CWRU for making me grow in those aspects.

How has being an international student and living/studying in another country changed your view of the world?

It made me realize that there are very different experiences regardless of how similar your backgrounds are with another person. It also heightened my sense of social responsibility towards the entire world. 

What advice would you give to other international students considering studying at CWRU?

DO IT!! You won’t regret it. The experiences you will have are one of a kind. CWRU offers you preparation in research, career path, and in-classroom success. There are so many ways you can get involved in your community. It is awesome.