Venezuelan student finds new home at UA Little Rock

Katherine Zambrano stands next to the university's satellite dishes. Photo by Benjamin Krain.

When Katherine Zambrano first moved to Little Rock to live with her aunt, whose husband was ill, Little Rock seemed like a different world compared to her hometown of Caracas, Venezuela, with a population of more than two million people. 

“I came from a very big city, like Chicago or New York, and there is a lot of noise there,” said Zambrano, a 21-year-old senior. “Here, it is slow paced, and it is silent at times. It was hard to adjust, but I really love it now. The tranquility and calmness have grown on me.”

Anxious to get started on her college education, Zambrano began at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock soon after she arrived in the spring 2015 semester. She is appreciative of the volunteers from International Student Services for helping her adjust to a new country.

“International Student Services helped me to adjust to college life,” she said. “Student volunteers tell you about campus life and give you a tour of campus. Everything is overwhelming when you get here, so having someone welcome you and tell you where the best place to eat and hang out is very helpful.”

In December, Zambrano will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication and media production and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. She plans to work as a translator and in the communications industry.

While on campus, Zambrano has received a variety of work experience to prepare her for the future. She has worked in the Office of Testing Services and International Student Services.  

Katherine Zambrano attends Mosaic Church where she worked as an intern translating Spanish and also works as a children's Sunday school teacher with her husband. Photo by Benjamin Krain.
Katherine Zambrano attends Mosaic Church where she worked as an intern translating Spanish and also works as a children’s Sunday school teacher with her husband. Photo by Benjamin Krain.

“In the International Student Services office, I have been able to work alongside incredible people who have become my friends and meet new people from all over the world,” she said. “My favorite part of being a student is getting to meet people from Argentina and Saudi Arabia and everywhere in the world. It’s great that we have such a cultured school.”

On the communications side, she worked as a lab assistant for the School of Mass Communication, managing communication equipment used by students. She has also served as an intern at KATV and at Mosaic Church, where she served as a Spanish translator and created graphics. Zambrano also enjoyed working on “The Lunch Box,” a television news program produced by the School of Mass Communication, and a class documentary.

“As a mass communication major, I was fortunate to work with a documentarist from HBO. He was our teacher for a semester, and we were able to make a documentary from scratch. It was great and an experience that I will never forget.”

She is also actively involved in the community and volunteers at Mosaic Church, the children’s ministry at Fellowship Bible Church, and as a group leader for International Student Services.

On campus, Zambrano has also served as president of the International Club and vice president of Genesis Campus Ministry, where she met her husband, David, who is studying to be a physician assistant at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The two were married at Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs in 2017.

Katherine Zambrano has worked as a lab assistant in the UA Little Rock television production studio. Photo by Benjamin Krain.
Katherine Zambrano has worked as a lab assistant in the UA Little Rock television production studio. Photo by Benjamin Krain.

One of her favorite teachers was Dr. Mark Giese, who retired from the School of Mass Communication in 2017.

“He was the one who got me interested in media production,” Zambrano said. “I had one of his classes, and he was this person who wanted you to learn. He was very passionate toward filming and photography, and he wanted you to love it.”

Zambrano is thankful to her friends in International Student Services and Counseling Services who helped her adjust to college life and make UA Little Rock her new home.

“I arrived in the U.S. three and a half years ago and was met with a lot of incredible people that guided me and taught me all I know now,” she said. “I knew English but that was where my knowledge stopped in terms of college, and I was met with so many people that wanted to help me succeed and that was the biggest incentive to continue going. I love the community, and people are so friendly, and people aren’t afraid to say hello and will come up and meet new people.”

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