International Students Build Workforce Skills at College of DuPage Through Community College Initiative Program

By: Mike McKissack

CCI Program Meet and Greet

College of DuPage has welcomed 16 students from around the world through the 2019-2020 Community College Initiative (CCI) program. View photos from a recent meet and greet with the students.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the CCI program recruits participants from underserved and unrepresented communities and provides them with quality educational study at U.S. community colleges. The program is designed to build technical skills, enhance leadership capabilities and strengthen English language proficiency.

Since partnering with the CCI program during the 2012-2013 academic year, COD has hosted 124 international students from 13 countries worldwide. Students have come to the College from Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey.

International Student Services Program Coordinator Kayla Chepyator said she is thrilled to welcome this year’s students and applauded the program for its benefits to the visiting students, as well as native COD students.

 “The Institute of International Education states that in 2016-2017, less than 11 percent of all undergraduate students in the United States had the opportunity to study abroad,” she said. “This number is even lower in community colleges. International exchange programs provide internationalization of U.S. campuses and provide students with an opportunity to learn from others to prepare them for their role as a global citizen.”

While at COD, visiting students pursue one-year certificate programs in workforce development fields and receive opportunities for professional internships, service learning and community engagement activities. After completing the program, the students return home with a deeper understanding of U.S. culture and new skills to help them contribute to the economic growth and development of their countries.

This year’s students represent 12 countries, and include Abdullah Abdelraheem (Egypt, Business); Sangrem Bawm (Bangladesh, Business); Kabelo Boleu (South Africa, Culinary Arts); Udayabhanu Bolleddu (India, Horticulture); Marie-Honorée Kadio-Morokro (Ivory Coast, Horticulture); Sylvester Korang-Amoako (Ghana, Engineering); Jesus Miolan Reyes (Dominican Republic, MPTV); Magauta Ntsoeu (South Africa, Tourism); Linda Otieno (Kenya, Hospitality); Edgar Palomino Arevalo (Colombia, Tourism); Ria Pratiwi (Indonesia, Business); Akash Raj (India, MPTV); Ditha Rimadiputri (Indonesia, Business); Francisco Da Silva Santos (Brazil, Engineering); Toni Sitania (Indonesia, Tourism); and Faustina Teye (Ghana, Horticulture).

Since 2007, the CCI Program has hosted more than 3,200 participants from 21 countries. This U.S. Department of State program is administered by Northern Virginia Community College in cooperation with the Community College Consortium. For more information, visit or contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at

For more information about COD’s Field and Experiential Learning/Study Abroad/Global Education programs, call (630) 942-2356 or visit