SUNY Oswego awards certificates in new year-round Intensive English Program


December 18, 2018

Yahya Ibrahima Ndiaye of Senegal -- one of four students in the first-ever group to receive certificates of completion in SUNY Oswego's new year-round Intensive English Program -- now has an added dream.

"At the beginning of the semester, I felt like it was difficult for me to write an essay," he told the audience at the recent ceremony. "But thanks to this program, which helped me find my writing style and makes me dream to write a book in English in the coming years."

Ndiaye now will launch into electrical and computer engineering, his SUNY Oswego major, in the spring semester en route to fulfilling his original dream: to return to his native country with undergraduate and graduate degrees and the skills to make a difference.

Joining him in the educational quest are certificate recipients Tianmeng Liu of China in psychology, Muhammadzohir Hidoyatov of Tajikistan in biology and Wenhuan Zhu of China in business administration.

SUNY Oswego was prepared to offer the new program because of its more than four decades of experience offering the Summer Intensive English Program, where international students earn up to six hours of college credit while improving their English skills in listening, speaking, reading, writing and grammar through classroom instruction and conversation, and learn about American culture.

Yet there have been international students for whom those three- and six-week sessions weren't enough to make the transition to a college career at Oswego. Ebru Altay Damkaci, program manager for Extended Learning's International Language and Education Center, teamed with other colleagues, as well as the Office of International Education and Programs and faculty in the School of Education's TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) program to launch the more extended proficiency initiative this fall.

'Very blessed'

The new program provides continual opportunities to learn via two 16-week semesters and two summer sessions -- four hours a day, five days a week -- of non-credit-bearing language and cultural instruction from faculty member Anneke McEvoy. Two peer tutors in TESOL, Mikayla McGarry and Emily Howden, work with students another hour a day, and all of the students are encouraged to join clubs on campus and to otherwise seek out opportunities to enhance their English language skills.

"We offered this opportunity to all students who couldn't meet the (college's) language requirement, rather than lose them to other schools," said Damkaci, noting her pride in the four students' completion of the rigorous program.

McEvoy beamed as the initial group of students received their certificates and five other students looked forward to earning their own recognition in May: Eun Chong Park in psychology, Peiwen Li in finance and Shenhao Hu, Haoyu Zheng and Hu Xing Zhao, all in business administration.

"I felt very blessed to meet this cohort of students and learn about them and their interests," McEvoy said.

Among those on hand at the ceremony were Scott Furlong, the college's provost and vice president of academic affairs; Jill Pippin, dean of extended learning; Rameen Mohammadi associate provost for undergraduate and special programs; Joshua McKeown, associate provost for international education and programs; and Kristen Eichhorn, dean of graduate studies.

"From our standpoint, we really can't have an international enrollment without an intensive English program, too," McKeown said.

Ndiaye said that as important as the instruction and tutoring were, equally so were the self-made opportunities.

"I have joined the TKD (tae kwon do) program of Rameen Mohammadi, where I learned many things about young American lifestyle from the other participants," Ndiaye said. "With community service offered by The Point, I also joined the program called Adopt-a-Grandparent. … Every weekend, I am joining people from my country to remember the beauty of Senegal and to get fresh news that I couldn't catch during the week."

To learn more about the Intensive English and other language programs for international students, contact the college's International Language and Education Center in the Division of Extended Learning, 315-312-2270 or, or visit

English proficiency -- The first certificate recipients in SUNY Oswego's new year-round Intensive English Program are (from left) Tianmeng Liu and Wenhuan Zhu, both from China; Muhammadzohir Hidoyatov of Tajikistan and Yahya Ibrahima Ndiaye of Senegal. They'll matriculate as freshman in their respective majors for the spring semester.