Meet the Dean of International Enrollment
Lewis Cardenas is the dean of international enrollment for the enrollment management and marketing division at Saint Peter’s University. He leads new student admission for undergraduate and graduate international students. Before joining Saint Peter’s, Cardenas served as associate director of admission and international student services at the Metropolitan College of New York. Prior to that, he served as director of international student recruitment at Albion College and as program coordinator for the Illinois State Board of Education Transition to Teaching Program. In addition, he held roles as a high school teacher and administrator for St. Martin de Porres High School in Waukegan, Illinois, an affiliate of the Cristo Rey network of schools. Cardenas has a strong passion for international education and an academic background in international studies from Albion College in Albion, Michigan. He holds a master’s degree in science in international public service and non-profit management from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois.
What places have you visited so far to spread the word about the University? What locations do you plan to visit in the future?
So far I have traveled to China, India, Bulgaria, Brunei, Indonesia, Serbia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Canada and Sweden, to name a few. In the future, we may visit some Latin American countries, emerging markets in Africa, and even host some domestic events like visiting some of our partner English language schools and some private schools throughout the region.
Has anyone from one of the countries you have visited applied to Saint Peter’s?
Saint Peter’s University is very new to the international market. It will take some time to build a presence overseas, but we have made great progress on many fronts. We have had a record number of international graduate and undergraduate applications. In fact, it’s the most our university has ever seen. Already, we have several accepted students as a result of our visits and the great work our coaches, board members, staff and faculty are doing to foster the connections that they already had in the pipeline.
What is the general reaction you receive when talking about Saint Peter’s in the international markets?
Overall, it has been very positive. Our location, history and Jesuit identity helps to attract students. The fact that we are in the same family of Jesuit schools as some more widely recognized institutions of higher learning also has sparked some interest in Saint Peter’s.
What strategies do you use (speeches, videos, etc.) when talking about the University in order to get individuals excited about Saint Peter’s?
Our new international view book, informational fact sheets and international webpages are fantastic resources to use. They are really geared towards answering the common questions asked by most international students and their families. I’ve also created PowerPoints about our university as well as topics such as finding the right fit for a student and navigating the collegiate admission process. I work closely with EducationUSA (affiliated with the United States embassy), which serves as a gateway for students looking to study in the U.S. Because of my close relationship with them, I’ve also had an opportunity to meet U.S. ambassadors in several countries, as well as partake in television and newspaper interviews. I will also be presenting at some international conferences this year to bring some more notoriety to our university. Nothing, however, works better than talking about current student success stories.
What questions do you receive from potential students in the locations you visit?
I get a lot of common questions such as what are the opportunities for research and internships. What it is like to study at a Catholic university and how that affects the campus environment both in and outside the classroom. I also get a lot of questions regarding scholarship opportunities, our ranking, distinguished alumni, what campus life is like and about the area we are located in. Moreover, I get questions about what happens when students are admitted and how international students are received on campus, especially when they are from a different religious background. Many of these questions come from parents.
What are your short term goals with international recruitment? What are your long term goals?
My short term goals were to revamp our admission criterion, develop marketing materials to attract students to our webpages, develop some English language partners, reach out to alumni and interview some of our current international students to see what attracted them to Saint Peter’s in the first place. My long term goals are to reach out to more faculty, staff and students to help assist us in our recruitment efforts. For example, I will be meeting a Saint Peter’s alumnus who lives and works in the Toronto area. I am really looking forward to the opportunity. Ultimately, I hope that a combination of all these efforts will lead to a great international presence on campus.
A great story to share with you: I was on vacation for three days in Panama this month. On my last day of vacation, I was riding a cable car through the rainforest and there was a Chinese family in the same car. After striking up conversation and practicing my Mandarin, I found out that I had visited the family’s son at his high school in Shenzhen, China this past fall. The family is interested in sending their son to Saint Peter’s next year. Small world!