The ELI Student Spotlight series is designed to honor students who demonstrates outstanding commitment and enthusiasm in ELI courses. 

Meet Kevin Rodriguez-Siu! Kevin was nominated for the ELI Student Spotlight by two faculty members from the department for his work in the Fall 2020 term. Trisha Dowling nominated him for his work in ELI 534, stating, "Kevin, though in his first semester and not yet in Michigan, has gone above and beyond to participate in class discussions and assignments. He volunteered to lead a class discussion and is encouraging as both a leader and participant in class. It has been great to work with him!"

Additionally, Anna Eddy also nominated Kevin for his work in ELI 534. She wrote, "I was impressed by how thoroughly Kevin approached each assignment. Although he was very fluent in English, he used every assignment as an opportunity to further develop his speaking skills. In addition to his high academic standards, he brought so much more to our class experience. He freely shared his passions and aspirations and encouraged others to do the same. The most striking and enjoyable quality that Kevin shared with us was his creativity. We all were in different parts of the world meeting in Zoom once a week, but we could always feel the flavors of Peru in Kevin's projects, be it a spiced tea, a Peruvian artifact in his background, or the sounds from the street in his videos."


Name: Kevin Rodriguez-Siu

Hometown: Arequipa, Peru

Degree Program: MS. in Computer Science and Engineering

What inspired you to take a class at the English Language Institute? Once I got accepted into the University of Michigan, I realized something important: While I had a good English background, I certainly hadn't had many chances to engage with it whitin an academic context. After some conversations with some friends, I decided to schedule an advising appointment with the English Language Institute to talk with someone about what I felt were my strengths, what I thought I needed to improve and what areas I was more interested to practice and learn. I also wanted to inquire about how the classes would work during the pandemic, as I was going to be unable to be at Ann Arbor when the semester started. After a very nice conversation with professor Deborah Des Jardins, she helped me with some recommendations about what classes might help me working towards my goals and that was the final push I needed to convince myself to enroll in some classes.

What have you enjoyed the most about your class? Why? In general, what I enjoyed the most about my classes was the opportunity to connect with other people and build a community. These spaces were both somewhere we could learn more and practice our language skills and a place where we could share our daily experiences with friends. I especially liked the group discussions we had in the ELI 534 course. They were opportunities to chat about how we saw the world through the lenses of different topics and allowed me to learn so much more about my classmates, sharing our passions and what drove us to our current career path. I also enjoyed so much the creative outlet I got from the video assignments of the ELI 531 course, as I had the chance to share with people my own identity and thoughts, trying to make them also entertaining to watch. And one of the most important things that I have to mention is that both my professors, Trisha Dowling and Anna Eddy, as well as all my classmates, put so much effort to reach out and made everyone feel included. Even though we were physically distant from each other, I always felt very much part of the class and the community we had created.

What do you hope to do after graduating from Michigan? There are many things that I hope to do once I finish my current studies. I'm looking forward to possibly studying for a PhD with a focus on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. I also want to dwell in the world of teaching, and one day I hope to be a professor in a university in Peru to also give back to the country that built me first. Finally, I know is ambitious, but I also hope to contribute in some way to bring more opportunities to connect technology and education for everyone, so I can help give others the same opportunities I was able to get that got me this further.

What advice would you give to other international students at U-M? The first step is always the scariest, so my best advice is: reach out to people and open up to this first step. Graduate school can be isolating, especially in the current situation of the world, and we can often feel that we are on our own. But there are so many people around that can help us and guide us. Don't be afraid to ask for help or advice or to propose something you think will help you or your classmates. You'll find that once that first step is done, the rest comes easier because of all the people supporting you now.