Kent State University’s American Academy Graduates Its First Brazilian Student
Alvacir Wesley Kalatai Alberti was attending university in his native Brazil in 2018 when a huge billboard about a new program at Kent State University called the American Academy drew his attention.
Until that day, studying abroad was not something that Kalatai Alberti, 25, had ever considered. He thought it was out of the question. But he admits that the prospect of studying in the United States was intriguing.
“When I thought about studying overseas or studying abroad, it felt so out of reach and so difficult that I really never had given it any thought,” Kalatai Alberti said. “So, when I saw that they were facilitating entrance into the U.S. in conjunction with Kent State, I thought ‘yeah that’s interesting.’ And then I called them at the Brazilian office there to know more about it and to know how the program worked.”
What Kalatai Alberti saw as out of reach was attainable. Now the native of Imbituva, Parana, Brazil, holds the distinction of being the first graduate of Kent State’s American Academy, having marched at the Kent Campus with the class of spring 2022. Alberti graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science with a concentration in robotics and embedded systems.
Kalatai Alberti had planned to graduate at the end of 2022 until he learned of an opportunity to do a master’s degree program in Spain at Polytechnic University of Madrid, beginning in fall 2022. He will study software engineering in Spain, which will give him a comprehensive understanding of various software languages.
“My advisors were super supportive of me moving up my graduation,” Kalatai Alberti said. “They explained that I had the option of only focusing on one of my concentrations to graduate, so I chose to focus on robotics so that I could graduate earlier. It worked out great.”
Kalatai Alberti enrolled in the American Academy (AA) when it launched in 2018. AA is a dual-enrollment program offered jointly at Kent State and the Pontifical Catholic University of Parana (PUCPR), located in Curitiba, Parana, Brazil.
AA allows students to complete their first two years of undergraduate study in Brazil and at the PUCPR campus, taking Kent State classes taught in English by Kent State faculty members, and earning academic credit from both universities simultaneously. At the end of two years, students earn a Kent State Associate of Science degree and can then choose whether to finish their bachelor’s degree in the U.S. at Kent State’s Kent Campus or in Brazil at PUCPR.
Depending on their career path, students will receive a Kent State bachelor’s degree, a PUCPR bachelor’s degree or a bachelor’s degree from both institutions. Students who choose to complete their degrees at Kent State have the choice of more than 200 undergraduate degree programs, 36 of which can be completed in four years.
Paulo Mussi, director of the American Academy, said AA offers students a liberal arts education, which is one of the only programs of its kind in Brazil.
“Usually the students that went to university (in Brazil), go directly to professional schools, but we thought that (AA) was a great opportunity for them to offer a different pathway for their careers,” Mussi said. “And of course, being partners with Kent State was a great opportunity to bring Kent State to our campus and offer this huge opportunity for our students. Not only to have access to the American style of education, but also to offer them a pathway to go to the United States as well.”
Before Kalatai Alberti had heard of AA, he was majoring in mechatronics at a university in Brazil. He was working and attending school and had earned good grades in his classes. But he was not at all excited about engineering. Then he heard about the AA program and he threw his attention toward applying to the program.
“I decided that I would focus 100 percent on the American Academy,” Kalatai Alberti said. “Everything was explained to me and there were like three days before the application was due. I was like ‘if you want to do this you have to move fast.’ After I had all of my documents lined up I told my parents.”
Kalatai Alberti said his parents were supportive of his decision to study abroad and attend American Academy as long as he felt he could improve himself through the program because it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Kalatai Alberti was rolling along in the program for two years, but then COVID-19 hit, the borders were shut down and he could not travel to the U.S. to complete his studies in the AA program. Students had the option to continue taking courses online or pause the program for a year. Kalatai Alberti chose to take courses 100% online. He continued his online courses and arrived in the U.S. in August 2021.
Once Kalatai Alberti arrived at Kent State he fell in love with the campus and experienced many firsts over the last year.
He met other students who were here from Nigeria, China, Italy, Lebanon and India, and developed meaningful relationships with them, getting to experience how different people live their lives.
And when he needed a little bit of his home country, he would retreat to his apartment off campus, where he and his two Brazilian roommates would speak Portuguese, which gave them all a sense of comfort.
Kalatai Alberti is an avid rock climber and was delighted to find that the Student Recreation Center had a rock-climbing wall. He became kindred spirits with other rock climbers and hikers, exploring the outdoors with them across Northeast Ohio.
Kalatai Alberti saw snow for the first time, which he said was an amazing experience. He and his new friends had snowball fights on campus. These were all experiences that you cannot acquire in the classroom.
“This last year here has been pretty fun and I made a lot of friends. I did a lot of the program remotely but being here and talking to people and being able to interact and do stuff together that's a whole different thing. I've met such amazing people from all over the world since I’ve been here.”
For more information about the American Academy go to https://www.kent.edu/KSU/AA.
For information about Kent State’s award-winning Office of Global Education go to https://www.kent.edu/globaleducation.