‘It’s our Catholic culture that draws them’: On why International students flock to Franciscan


Franciscan University of Steubenville is known worldwide for its academics, Catholic identity and unique student life program.

With such a reputation, it’s no surprise that this semester, 18 undergraduate and four graduate students chose to leave their countries to study at the small liberal arts college nestled in the Ohio Valley.

“It’s our Catholic culture that draws them,” said Juliana DeLuca Daugherty, director of orientation and international students. “When they make the commitment to a Catholic university, Franciscan is a major choice.”

The 22 current international students hail from 14 countries, including Canada, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Gibraltar. They are also spread across various major programs, such as theology, philosophy, business, chemistry and English literature.

DeLuca Daugherty said that she doesn’t recruit applicants — most of them have heard about the university by word of mouth, either through parishes, friends or family members.

She said the international students are not an isolated group on campus and acclimate well to life in America. Many students hold campus jobs, participate in NCAA-Division III sports and even spend a semester on Franciscan’s Austria campus; the most difficult adjustment many students have to make, she said, is to Ohio’s climate.

“We try not to segregate them,” said DeLuca Daugherty.

The Catholic culture enticed senior business management and marketing major Ivonne Icaza, who said one of her favorite things about Franciscan is the accessibility of the sacraments. Still, one of the biggest challenges Icaza faced upon her arrival at Franciscan was, “getting used to American ways.”

“It may sound funny, but we have different prospective on things and the culture is also very different,” she said.

Senior accounting major Andrea Talay’s family currently lives in Canada, but she went to an international high school in Indonesia. While her high school experience helped Talay to be accustomed to being around people of different cultures, she agreed that there was an adjustment that came with attending school in America.

“The hardest thing about coming to school in the U.S., especially where there’s not a lot of people who’ve been or lived overseas, is that they’re not generally as accepting of differences in culture or the way you were raised,” she said.

Talay said these differences include pronunciation of certain words, slang, eating habits or even ways of greeting people.

DeLuca Daugherty said along with keeping in touch with many students herself, she organizes socials exclusively for the international students each semester. While there was previously a student-led organization on campus, she now oversees activities for the group.

Overall, all of Franciscan’s students — international and domestic — benefit from having international students on campus, DeLuca Daugherty said.

“The domestic students have been fortunate to know them,” she said. “The international students’ presence definitely enriches their lives, and vice versa.”

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