Staffer Sheryl Wyan Getting an Education on the Job
For the first eight years of Sheryl Lichtig Wyan's job, most of UC Merced was on paper. Now that the campus is up and running, her position involves a different kind of paperwork - the kind that brings international students and scholars to be part of UC Merced.
Wyan spent nine years as a senior public information representative in the office of communications, but this summer, as her 10th year on the job started, she changed departments. Now she's a senior administrative analyst, working with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System and coordinating visas for students and scholars.
"Some people in the Central Valley are still not even aware of us yet, but here are all these people from around the world who want to come here," Wyan said. "I think it's a testament to the reputation of the UC system and the quality of our professors, as well as their research."
She has helped coordinate visas for students and scholars from Europe, Japan, China, Lebanon, Yemen, Korea, Macedonia, among other places. She';s trying to help an Iranian lecturer who wants to come here to study hydrology, but "it's very difficult right now," she said.
Wyan said there's a lot of paperwork for all the different types of visas, as well as for people who want permanent residency, and she's still learning all the ins and outs. Some applications can take weeks, while others can take months and even years.
But she studied international relations as an undergrad at UC Davis, and said she's happy to be able to put her undergraduate education to use.
Also, Wyan describes herself as "detail oriented," which makes the new job a great fit.
There are so many different aspects of helping students make the transition - things that Americans take for granted, like getting a Social Security number, a driver's license, or figuring out how to do their banking.
One of Wyan's hopes is that international students who are already here will form an organization to help the incoming students adjust to life in the United States. She's also hoping for some ideas for activities and programs for International Education Week, from Nov. 13-17.
"It would be nice to come together and celebrate the richness of the campus community," she said. "We all have such unique experiences and can learn so much from each other."