Friendship Across Continents

Many students feel torn between pursuing their dreams in America and leaving their beloved families behind in their home countries. Of course, nothing will replace the bond students have with their families overseas. Nonetheless, Tian-Ying Meng, fondly known as Apple, and Olesya Timofeeva, two CSI students, have built a friendship that they treasure and take great pride in as if they have found a long-lost sister. When words of their new friendship traveled back to their homelands, their families tearfully rejoiced.

Tianying and Olesya met at CSI in the BCP program they both attended. Ever since they have been in the same class for both BCP and SKB programs. They helped each other, encouraged each other, cared for each other while ill, and were there for each other during difficult times. Their friendship has blossomed as they have achieved academic success and have remained top students in all classes they have attended as well as thrive in their Externships.

Before enrolling at CSI, Apple and Olesya grew up on different continents – Asia and Europe. Apple was from China, majored in literature at college and worked as a journalist and editor-in-chief at a TV station. Olesya was from Russia and had 10 years’ working experience as manager of the foreign economics department, SDT-Impex representation of Martimex a.s. in Moscow.

Despite busy work schedules, they are among the first to come and the last to leave their classrooms, ensuring they will not leave today’s work for tomorrow. They always submit projects ahead of time and always produce quality work with sound perceptions and insightful points, readily applying what they learned to their externships.

While they are from different countries, they share many commonalities and affinities – in their own words: “We have big dreams, the audacity to challenges difficulties, and the determination to give our best for whatever we choose to pursue.” They are grateful that CSI has provided a platform for them to meet, growing together academically and personally, becoming friends and sisters across continents.

Their life in the US is more balanced and enjoyable because they are close friends. While striving to be the best overall students at CSI, they use their leisure time to share experiences and expand on their dreams while they dine in restaurants and sip coffee in coffee shops. CSI makes possible everything from academia to work to life for international students and bridges all three unique dynamics into one exceptional, unique experience.

In the future, the two international sisters may be separated by distance, attend different schools, work on different jobs, or even return to their native countries. Still, when asked how long they will remain friends, they responded that the friendship will last forever because a sister is part of the family.

“We have been friends for years since we joined CSI. The solid relationship at CSI is one of the best things we gained in the United States. We speak different languages and come from different cultures, but we share a lot in terms of family values, life attitudes, and pursuit of excellence, which enable us to understand, connect and communicate well like sisters. We know our friendship will last forever – we just know it.”



Shine and let others Shine

Marta Cebula impresses everyone as a young lady full of energy and positivity. Her face glows with a bright smile, may it be a warm, sunny day in May or a snowy, gloomy day in January in Chicago. No matter the weather, she shines.

She walks into the classroom, always wearing a smile. She is not picky about where to sit in the classroom and sits at the first available spot. With complete engagement, she attends every class, always participating, sharing thoughts, asking questions, submitting assignments timely, and getting top grades. Regardless where she sits, she shines.


Marta was a physical education major in her home country of Poland. Despite the fact all her families are in Poland, Marta was delighted to be able to continue her career in the United States. The courses in Customer Service program at CSI opened her up for opportunities to apply her expertise to helping others thorough physical education. She shined with hope.

Opportunity came when Marta became part of Fusion Recplex Burbank Parke District family for her externship. “I discovered that place – thanks to my friend. I always liked to participate in different recreational activities, and I embraced the opportunity dearly and seriously,” Marta shared.





When she first went to Fusion, she was stricken by how helpful and friendly everyone was. That delighted her as a student studying customer service. She took her job seriously, enjoyed her experience at the recreation facility and continued growing professionally, while bringing her enthusiasm and thoughtfulness to both her colleagues and customers.

Not long after Marta started the externship, the facility manager approached and asked her if she was interested in becoming an employee of Fusion Recplex. Marta was thrilled: “That was one of the happiest days in my life!” She shined with joy.

As Marta reflected and shared her stories of helping customers through her passion and expertise, she recalled the time when she signed up for the customer service program at CSI and commented: “I am very grateful for CSI as its course work and externship options provided the valuable tools and prepared me to grow – CSI made my dream come true.”

Her instructor and fellow students enjoy her as an outstanding student, her supervisor appreciates her as an exemplary employee, and her customers love her as a customer service professional with care, love, passion and expertise. She touches everyone with warmth and enthusiasm and her glowing smile.


Marta shines and she lets others shine with her!

Meet Snizhana Kolesnyk


Please meet Snizhana Kolesnyk from Kyiv, Ukraine. Snizhana lives on beautiful Cape Cod in the town of Yarmouth. She is also a student at Computer Systems Institute (CSI) Allston, MA having started in July, 2018. For those of you who do not know where Cape Cod is in relation to Allston, please take a look at your google maps. You will probably say at least two things: it really looks beautiful there (it is!) and wow, that is a long way from Boston (it is!) It takes a little over six hours a day for the roundtrip to and from Cape Cod and CSI. Snizhana travels by bus and then subway. Snizhana says “but hey, we all invest time and effort in our education. J It is worth it to me to live on Cape Cod by the Atlantic Ocean. It is also worth it to me to travel this far to CSI. After all, I came all the way from Ukraine!” Also note that despite the formidable commute, Snizhana has achieved 100% attendance for several quarters.

She has traveled quite a lot, not only in the USA, having visited Florida, New York (her dream was to first visit Miami and then Manhattan; that’s what initially brought her to the U.S.), California, Nevada and Illinois, but also around the world. She has been to Austria, Poland, Georgia, Montenegro, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Turkey and India.

She says that Boston is one of the best cities from what she’s seen! It has beautiful architecture and a smart composition of buildings and parks that allow you to always find shade in the summer and visit nice places in winter. She always enjoys her time at school, but the bonus part is spending a day in Boston after classes. She’s toured the Museum of Fine Arts already, but the list of must-see places has expanded to include the Museum of Science, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

She holds a Master’s degree in Management from Ukraine, and the Business Career Program she is currently enrolled in fits perfectly with her future business plans in Ukraine. She likes to keep her plans simple and attainable, so after graduation she’d like to work and travel in the USA for about a year, and then go back to Europe and open a coffee shop with fresh pastries in downtown Kyiv. She feels her time in the USA and at CSI is laying the groundwork to successfully undertake this venture.

It was during her visit to Boston that she became aware of CSI through mutual friends. She visited the Allston campus and immediately felt that being a student here would be beneficial in helping her achieve her business and career goals. She also liked the community atmosphere at the CSI Allston campus and really loved the Allston neighborhood, which is very diverse, urban and culturally varied.

Her CSI instructors like Mel and Sheryl to name a few make the lessons informative and interesting, so she really enjoys the courses. She states that we have a lot of interactions in class that get students involved and thinking, and they always bring up important, relevant and practical things and make everything easy to understand. She is really enjoying her time at CSI, in Boston, and in the USA.

She further states the courses in the BCP program that are very applicable to her future business plans include Principles of Sales and Marketing, Applied Business Concepts, Customer Service, Financial Services, Computer Applications 1 and 2, Intro to Small Business Management. She says she would not come all the way from Cape Cod if there was little to nothing to gain from the courses. On the contrary, she looks forward to coming to CSI, because she sees the value in the courses mentioned above related to opening and operating a small business. A big value-added benefit of CSI’s BCP program is the opportunity for an OPT. She fully intends to do this to apply the skills she is learning, and to get a better idea of how businesses run in the USA. She feels this will be invaluable in getting her business in Kyiv up and running. Snizhana is thrilled to continue her education and gain invaluable experience at CSI as she looks forward to her future.

A Dominican in Chicago

 Working on one’s resume can be a difficult task, especially for those with a foreign background. Biencar Luciano, from the Dominican Republic, is not the exception. “Whenever somebody looks at my resume, they ask me how I can have such a wide background in two different fields: finance and teaching. Education is a foundation that can be applied in any domain of expertise. The success of a good financial professional depends on their ability to communicate their analysis and ensure the departments they are supporting have understood the complex financial information they have worked on. This requires comprehending how people absorb information, retain it, and what drives them to act on it”.

It all started when she was 11 years old and joined a financial cooperative in her “barrio,” a humble neighborhood in the second city of the country, Santiago. Early on she saw in the people around her the will to strive, to hold onto the smallest opportunity they could find. The cooperative members would meet once a week and discuss topics, such as: money management, self-esteem, leadership, and so on.   A few years later, she became the president of the division for kids and teenagers for two consecutive terms. She helped to establish similar groups in other barrios.

“The people in these barrios inspired me. They all had something in common: they believed. They believed that they could have a better future, even if they had to fight twice as hard”.



Biencar’s parents always advised her and her siblings to be mindful of how lucky they were to have food on the table. Words that she did not really understand until the crisis of 2004 hit her family and her mother went bankrupt with her jewelry business.
“Those things that we took for granted before were not there anymore. Every penny counted to make ends meet. We never complained but embraced the change”.
Once in college, Biencar joined Un Techo – RD, a nonprofit thanks to which she would discover the reality of some Dominicans who were living in extreme poverty conditions. Hundreds of young volunteers would go to some of the most undeveloped towns in the Dominican Republic and spend days building and painting the houses of these families. They would eat together, sleep on the floor of some community centers, bathe wherever they could find some water and open the eyes to a truth that is not shared on social media.
“I am very grateful of the families that opened up their homes and hearts to us. They were so kind, joyful, generous, and thankful in such harsh conditions. It was just beautiful”.

While going to college for her finance degree, she got a job as an English and Computer teacher. She graduated Summa Cum Laude and decided to work full time in the area that she always knew was her passion. After working in an accounting advisory capacity for several industries, she was hired to run the finance department of a small international export company (400 employees).

However, her journey as a teacher was not over yet. Some years later, eager to go abroad and discover new opportunities, Biencar contacted over 14 American universities, applied to five different scholarships, and spent all her savings in tests and fees. She finally got a scholarship to complete a master’s in Education in the United States. Within a few weeks she had to pack her belongings, hop on a plane for the first time, and arrive right before New Year’s Eve to discover subzero weather. “I came in winter time and that is all I brought to the U.S.: one suitcase of summer clothes and $700. I left behind my family, friends, career, a business and a nonprofit that I had co-founded, and my comfort zone. I was not afraid — out of ignorance rather than courage. I had no idea of the challenge waiting ahead of me”.

Eventually, she graduated with a GPA of 4.0 and got a job in Chicago Public Schools, working mostly with immigrant kids. Biencar successfully passed the CPA exams while completing the Business Career Program in Computer Systems Institute. CSI gave her the opportunity to understand all those terms that she had learned before, now in an American setting. When asked about what she plans to do in the future, she replies: “I really miss finance and I am looking forward to going back to my field. I would love to mentor other Dominicans, as well. Whatever I do, I will always be inspired by the image that many Dominican women have projected throughout the history. And I hope that I can always represent our ethics and core values”.

Meet Nirmal Arcot

Nearly 30 million households tuned in to watch this year’s Oscar Awards Ceremony, solidifying it as the most watched non-sporting event in the country.

One person who watched with keen interest is CSI student Nirmal Arcot, who prior to Oscar Night, spent an entire day watching all of the nominees for Best Picture. Who, you may ask, could watch 6 movies in one day? Well, if you have a profound love of movies and are an aspiring filmmaker yourself, 6 movies does not seem like a lot. So, where did Nirmal’s love of film come from?

“When I was in the 5th grade, I used to go to the theater with my Dad to see regional Indian movies. Those were fun to watch. They have comedy, action, everything. So, there is my favorite hero, and my Dad said we were there to see his latest movie. When we arrived, the posters were different, so I asked if this was his movie. When the movie began, I saw it was different. It was an American movie. So during the interval, I was crying because I didn’t want to see that movie. But eventually, the more I watched it, the more I liked it.”

Once exposed to this new style of movies, Nirmal dove into them with a passion. And, given his inquisitive nature, he needed to know the secret to creating such magic. He now watches so many movies, mainly for the purpose of studying them.

“I go to the movie theater every 3 days and on the other days, I watch two or three movies from all countries: Chinese for action, Japanese for anime, European for art. I study the style. I study the acting….these are my teachers.”

Normal arrived in Chicago in 2017, but his coming to this country was not by chance; this was the plan all along.

“To make it in film, you have to make it here in the United States. But school was expensive, so I got a Bachelor’s in Photography and I hope to make it into a Master’s program in Filmmaking.”

How has his experience at CSI helped him fuel his passion?

“All the instructors are very friendly and very supportive of my passion and I have collaborated with them on my short film (Adjunct Instructor, Aghavni Hovakimyan provided the music for one of his films). I am very thankful for them projecting (promoting) what I do.”

What does the future hold for Nirmal?

Who knows, we may one day wait with anticipation to hear these words: “And the Oscar for Best Director goes to…Nirmal Arcot!”

Looking to the Future



Boston, a world-renowned destination, welcomes many students who dream of studying in the U.S. Within a mile radius of the Back Bay section of Boston, there are about 250,000 college students studying and working toward making their dream a reality.

In addition to being known for its colleges and universities, Boston is also famous for its top research hospitals, ranked among the best in the United States.

For Honduran sisters Besy and Silvia Sanabria, settling down in Central Massachusetts provided them access to excellent medical care as well as the wonderful opportunity to study at Computer Systems Institute, Worcester Campus. Worcester is a short commute just west of Boston, easily travelled on the Mass Pike.

Silvia and Besy grew up in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, a factory city in Central America known for producing clothing and automobiles. When Silvia was one year old, the family experienced a tragedy when their home burned to the ground. Silvia was severely burned and required ongoing medical attention. Her treatments continued over the next 21 years. A group of doctors and nurses from Honduras who had been treating Silvia recommended she come to Massachusetts. They believed she would benefit greatly from the care offered at the Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Silvia applied for a humanitarian visa and was granted entrance to the United States. She was able to bring someone to help her on her journey and that someone was her sister, Besy. Today, we are happy to report that Silvia’s healing process has been significant and she is enjoying her life with her husband and a four-month old son, Ian.

Silvia’s need for medical treatments brought her to the U.S. and opened a new opportunity for her, to advance her education. Besy and Silvia are both enrolled in the Business Career Program at CSI and both have embraced the opportunity to learn about business. Their long term goal is to become business owners. Both of them arrive on campus with an attitude aimed at success and a passion for the day’s lessons.

The sisters’ strong work ethic was instilled by their parents. Store owners back in Honduras, their parents, married for 45 years, have supported their daughters and continue to speak daily by phone. I sat down with the sisters on a recent winter afternoon and we talked about living in New England. I asked them what took the most getting used to about living here. They agree that learning the subway system, the language, and the weather have all been a bit challenging.

I asked Silvia and Besy what they like to do when they were not in school or studying. They both said they love to travel. They have visited New Jersey and New York City. They enjoyed seeing the tall buildings and the shops as well as the vast array of ethnically diverse foods. I concluded our talk with one last question: “Where in the U.S. would you like to visit that you have not been?” Both responded “Disney World, Florida.” How appropriate that the travel destination for two young women whose dreams are being realized would be the magical land of dreams come true.

Meet Nataliia Shevchuk


Many of us at CSI, whether students, faculty or staff, came to this country to follow a dream. Some of us are chasing it intently, some of us had to readjust to meet the new reality, while some are determined to continue pursuing our dreams and not give up!

One of CSI’s students did just that! Nataliia left Ukraine for the United States with the intent of becoming a makeup artist and, despite a few roadblocks, she’s on track to make that dream a reality. Nataliia is passionate about her goals. She is enrolled and attending CSI full time. That alone requires a significant amount of time and attention, however to improve her Skills, Nataliia enrolled and is attending concurrently another institution to pursue her vision.

According to Nataliia, strict upbringing by her mother–who was a teacher–molded her into the ambitious artist and aspiring business woman she is today.

“[My mom] demanded a lot from me,” Nataliia said, “Always telling me that if “I’m doing something I have to be the best at it. If I’m not the best, then what’s the point of doing it?”

Last year, Nataliia attended both Computer Systems Institute, Skokie and Makeup First Academy, an excellent school for learning this craft. After returning late at night, she would spend several more hours practicing her makeup skills on a face chart or her husband, who fully supports her dream. But early on, she wasn’t always putting in the time necessary to achieve her lofty goals. She recalls telling a classmate of her dream to specialize in make-up design. She was shocked at her classmate’s response: She told Nataliia to be more realistic about future career choices and that she should do something practical, more like serving or bartending.

“I’ll probably never forget that comment,” Nataliia said.

However, most of her classmates–especially when she switched schools and started attending CSI–encouraged her to continue striving for her dream. She is now focused on applying business acumen from what she has been learning at CSI into her dream of becoming a makeup artist. Eventually, she wants to open a Make-Up school so she can pass her knowledge and techniques of the craft onto others.

As Nataliia continues to grow as an artist, she is already thinking of expanding her skill set by learning photography so she could “share her art through her own eyes.”

When asked if her Mother approves of the path she is on, Nataliia smiles and says: “I showed her all that I am learning and she told me she is very proud of me.”

Career Opportunities for Students in the Business Career Program

Group of Students in Business Career Program


The Business Career Program at Computer Systems Institute is designed to immerse and integrate international students into the American business environment. You’ll learn all the technical skills and knowledge you need to qualify for many different career opportunities in the field, both in America and around the world.

Skills Students Learn in the Business Career Program

Expect your time at CSI to provide you with hands-on training and practical experience. In our Business Career Program, you’ll develop and refine the following skills and concepts:

  • Business management
  • Accounting with computer applications
  • Microsoft Office applications
  • Face-to-face social interaction and communication
  • Telephone conversations
  • Customer service
  • Negotiations
  • Meetings and presentations

Career Opportunities

Once you complete the Business Career Program, you’ll have what you need to pursue a business career. You also open the door to furthering your education if you wish, including Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows you to gain practical experience in your field of study.

Here are the types of careers you qualify for after graduating from the Business Career Program:

  • Call center representative: Communicate with customers over the phone to answer questions, resolve problems and meet requests. Maintain a database of customer communications.
  • Front desk assistant: Maintain a business office by answering and placing calls; taking care of customers who walk in the front door; tracking office supplies and ordering replacements when necessary; and picking up and delivering items to other local businesses.
  • Retail manager: Oversee store staff, interact with customers, resolve customer inquiries, ensure optimal customer service, plan an annual budget, monitor spending and analyze business trends.
  • Inventory clerk: Track inventory levels and process purchase orders when necessary, receive and distribute inventory properly, and manage invoicing and Maintain accurate records of these activities.
  • Accounts receivable / accounts payable / payroll clerk: Process invoices, paychecks and/or requisitions; deposit checks at the bank; verify the accuracy of all financial transactions; and maintain a computerized financial record for the business.
  • Sales assistant: Support the sales and marketing managers, maintain and analyze a database of customer information, process customer requests, and prepare sales and promotional materials.

All of these career opportunities represent the first step down the road to a fulfilling business career in America or elsewhere in the world. The Business Career Program at CSI takes 40 academic weeks to complete, and eligible international students who choose to pursue OPT can gain up to 12 months of work experience before applying for a job.

If you’re interested in learning more about CSI and whether our Business Career Program is right for you, please contact us online or call 1-847-967-5030 to speak with a knowledgeable Admissions Representative.

Why the Classroom Environment is Vital in the Learning Process

Students Studing in Classroom

The environment in which students and teachers interact is vital to the success of everyone involved. Everything from the decorations on the walls to the arrangement of desks and chairs play a role in how well students learn. Here are the most influential factors of the classroom environment and the effects they have on the learning process.

Physical Environment

When establishing a place of learning, the first thing an educator does is assess the physical environment:

  • Light, warm-colored walls and floors are welcoming and create a positive first impression.
  • Decorations should be academically geared and may include student creations as the semester progresses.
  • Ample windows should allow light to shine in, yet coverings should make it possible to view visual media with ease.
  • The temperature should be warm and homelike so students are comfortable and happy to be there.

In addition to the basic structure of the building, the desk arrangement in a classroom is equally important. Individual desks arranged in tidy rows establish order and discourage interaction. This is suitable for lecture halls, but not for collaboration.

When students are expected to work together, it’s much more appropriate for desks to be arranged in groupings, semi-circles or one large circle. This also encourages students to communicate and build relationships with one another.

Emotional Environment

The emotional state of students is closely tied to their physical learning environment. Consider one instance where a teacher in a poor district of the northern Appalachian region struggled to motivate, build trust with and create a sense of community among her students. The classroom in which she taught was in the unfinished basement of an old school. Plain cement floors and walls and floor-to-ceiling poles made the room feel more like an interrogation chamber than a place of learning.

The teacher decided to transform the look of the classroom with donated carpet samples, paint and student-designed wall art. The transformation took six weeks, and when it was complete, the students had renewed pride in their classroom. They bonded with one another and were far more motivated to learn now that they had formed a community, not to mention a more beautiful physical environment in which to learn.

Respectful Environments

The final essential element of the classroom environment is creating a setting where students feel respected and that their contributions matter. Students should never be singled out and humiliated in front of the class, either by being put on display or secluded from everyone else. Teachers should make students feel accepted, valued and wanted.

At Computer Systems Institute, students enjoy learning in beautiful classroom settings. Their physical and emotional needs are met both directly and indirectly to ensure a comfortable, happy and respectful learning environment. If this is the type of college experience you want to have, please contact CSI online or call 1-847-967-5030 to find out more about our business, marketing and other career training programs geared toward international students.

The Benefits of the Classroom Environment for International Students

Students Raising Hands in Classroom

In this age of the Internet, an increasing number of students are deciding to enroll in online classes. There’s no doubt that online learning offers greater flexibility, but the classroom environment also has merits you can’t ignore. If you’re an international student hoping to study in America, consider the benefits of taking face-to-face coursework in a classroom setting.

Hands-on Learning

When the subject matter is physical in nature, the ability to handle it in person is tremendously beneficial. Classroom demonstrations and scientific experiments performed in a lab facilitate the learning process much more than simply reading about a topic.

Even if the subject is abstract rather than tangible, such as business administration, studies show that students who struggle with complex topics tend to learn better in person. Information retention also improves when learning takes place in a physical classroom environment.

Social Interactions with Other Students

When students learn online, they learn alone. Real-time, face-to-face conversations aren’t possible online. This means there is no social interaction or chance to develop interpersonal skills. These are critical abilities for everyone to learn, but this is especially true for international students who may require extra coaching in American culture and social norms.

Many jobs require employees to work well together. Learning in a classroom setting offers you the chance to complete group projects, give group presentations and discover how to work as a member of a team. This translates to the ability to build workplace relationships that will last a lifetime.

The classroom setting also provides the opportunity to develop a network. Often, finding the right career is about more than just what you know – it’s who you know. Small talk on campus can lead to opportunities you would never have known about if you only learned from home.

Greater Assistance from Teachers and Peers

While it’s possible to stay in contact with an online educator via email, instant messaging and video chat, nothing compares to asking a question in real time, either by raising your hand or turning to a classmate for help. Teachers and peers alike can offer extra assistance in person than they can online by looking at the student’s work and making suggestions, perhaps even writing notes in the margins. A little one-on-one time helps with the learning process more than watching a lecture online and emailing your teacher a few questions afterward.

Classroom and Practicum Learning at Computer Systems Institute

Here at CSI, we believe in taking a multi-faceted approach to college education. Classroom learning provides undeniable benefits, but what it lacks is real-world experience. That’s why we encourage classroom and practicum learning. This is when students receive relevant training through an employer, allowing them to use their skills right away in a work environment while still completing classroom-based coursework.

If this sounds like the type of learning experience you want to have, please contact CSI online or call 1-847-967-5030 to find out more about our business, marketing and other career training programs for international students.

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