The American Academy Celebrated Its First Commencement
A true milestone in the concept of international education, the American Academy celebrated its first Commencement in Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil, on Sept. 25.
The American Academy is a dual-enrollment program jointly operated by Kent State University and the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (PUCPR). The program’s curriculum follows a liberal arts education model, which is a new concept in Brazilian higher education. This four-semester program includes the Kent Core as well as additional courses that help students explore different majors. The classes are taught in English by Kent State professors, so students receive a global education experience before even leaving home.
At the end of the two years at the American Academy, students will earn the Kent State Associate of Science degree and may then complete an undergraduate degree at the Kent Campus or at PUCPR. Students planning to come to Kent chose a range of majors, including architecture, business, fashion design, computer animation and game design, computer science and physics.
Fourteen of the 15 students who first enrolled in the program when it launched in July 2018 were the first to graduate. Enrollment has grown continuously since 2018 and is expected to exceed 200 in two to three years. A major reason behind the program’s fast growth is its uniqueness to Brazil.
Unlike in the U.S., Brazilian universities only admit students to a specific major with no option to change programs after admission. The American Academy allows students two years to explore different majors while earning credit toward their bachelor’s degree, which has proven to be a very popular alternative for Brazilian students who are undecided.
The Commencement was held in a “hybrid” mode, with a small group on stage and all others attending via live stream on PUCPR’s YouTube channel so those closest to the students could share in their achievement. The stage was decorated with regalia of both Kent State and PUCPR, and the presidents and provosts of both universities, as well as administrative officials, family members, friends, faculty and staff, all attended virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Graduation stoles were specifically designed for the American Academy, adding a very personal touch to the ceremony and something special for the students.
“It was a fun event but also very professionally done,” described Leslie Bowser, coordinator of the American Academy program at Kent State. Bowser stated how truly inspiring the commencement was for all of those who attended, and even for those who watched online. Associate Provost for Global Education Marcello Fantoni noted in his Commencement speech, “This is mostly about the students, so let’s start with the most important part: Congratulations.”
Congratulations to the first cohort of the American Academy, and to all of those who will soon follow in their footsteps.