The WCU International Programs and Services (IPS) department has been going through some changes this semester, both in staff and location.
On January 5, Christopher Pedo joined the staff as the new international student advisor, just in time to help the office move into their new location in the Camp Building (near the WCU Police Department). Pedo is a native of Kenya who has a broad array of academic and work experience that make him an excellent addition to the IPS department.
After receiving his bachelor’s in Community Development, he went to work at a Michigan-based non-profit in Kenya called Special Ministries for six years.
“They focused a lot on community development, relief, organizing doctors to come from the US to provide free healthcare, builders coming from the US, providing education equipment for needy families, creating income generating projects for these communities-things like that,” said Pedo.
With his experience hosting foreign aid workers to Kenya, he entered into a job at Daystar University in Nairobi as the advisor for exchange students coming from other countries, mostly the US, Australia and Europe.
Five years ago he made the move to the US when he found a master’s degree program in Public Administration he liked at the Southern Illinois University. While there he served as the President of the African Student Association.
After graduation Pedo said he wanted to eventually find some sort of position in an international program office, but in the meantime he decided to try out working in corporate America. He found a job at AT&T coordinating marketing in their Yellow Pages department. After two years of that, he found the open position at WCU and decided to apply.
When I asked how he found out about the job he laughed and said “You wouldn’t believe it, but I found it on the internet in a job positing they listed.”
Pedo started his new position on January 5 this semester and describes the move a huge change that both he and his wife have been enjoying.
“What a big change! Here we are surrounded beautiful mountains. Compare that with the flatlands of Illinois where it’s cornfields everywhere. We love the scenery here. It’s breathtaking. The climate is quite a bit warmer here than Illinois, as well.”
Pedo is hoping that with his diverse range of experiences he can really help the WCU IPS department. His ambitious goal is to double the number of international students at Western from an already impressive 200 in the next two years. The office also wants to increase the number of Western students they send abroad.
“In corporate America it is all about getting results and meeting benchmarks, so I’m hoping to bring a little bit of that to Western. We’re looking at how we can market the unique blend of what this campus has to offer to international students.
“We want to get our name out there and make it easy for international students to find us and find a way here. We’re also looking at how we can make the experience for international students here as enjoyable as possible and make sure they’re taken care of during their stay.”