You know what they say…when one door closes, another one always opens. This couldn’t be more true for Santiago, an international student at Computer Systems Institute. From basketball to health sciences to marketing, his success story has been one of surprising twists and turns. Santiago recently shared his journey to CSI with us and the positive outlook he has on his future thanks to the unique opportunities he’s had as a student.

Being an international student or moving to a new country at any age can seem daunting. However for Santiago, this was even more so. He was born in Colombia but moved to Georgia in the U.S. to play basketball in high school. “I came at a young age of 15, almost 16,” he shared, “It was definitely an adjustment.” While Santiago juggled learning to be accountable, managing finances, and staying on top of legal things like visas, he also had to adjust to living in a new country. “I learned a lot from the American culture,” he added, noting how coming at a young age helped him adapt more easily to learning slang and cultural jokes.

After high school, Santiago decided to remain in the U.S. and attended college in Alabama, where he earned an undergraduate degree in biology and health sciences. He participated in Optional Practical Training (OPT) for physical therapy with hopes to pursue a career in physical therapy. “My main goal was to go to PT school and get a doctorate,” Santiago reminisced. Unfortunately, the cost of that path didn’t seem feasible to him, especially as an international student. With that door closing, what was he to do next?

“I decided to change my environment,” said Santiago, detailing how he moved to Massachusetts in 2022, and completed another OPT opportunity. Then, a simple Google search led Santiago to former CSI partner ESL Academy (now fully apart of CSI) as an opportunity to improve his English while figuring out what career path he wanted to take next.

Santiago had become interested in marketing after pivoting his career path away from the medical field. “Shortly after thinking about my career, I decided I want to be involved in the medical world one way or another,” he recounted. However, he found that he didn’t have the B2B experience or required education to pursue a career in medical sales. It was then as a student at ESL Academy that another door opened for Santiago—“I spoke with a vice president [of CSI] at Charlestown and learned all about the programs at CSI.”

The Marketing Concentration as part of the Business Career Program at CSI was everything he had been looking for. The program was affordable, ideal for international students, and provided the experiences he needed to pursue a career in healthcare management or marketing. Santiago noted two professors in particular who have made a big impact on his learning. Jay Yoon, he said, “opened my mind from an entrepreneurial perspective.” While Richard Eckel, he shared, “went out of his way to talk to me and give me advice.” Santiago was particularly impressed by how Richard Eckel showed that he cares about all his students—something he sees in all of CSI’s faculty and staff.

Overall, Santiago sees a bright future ahead of him, calling the certificate in marketing from CSI a “good add-up” to his undergraduate degree in health sciences. He encourages other international students to take hold of what CSI has to offer. “Having the opportunity to get an American degree looks great,” he advised, noting other benefits like learning from American culture and meeting talented people. Santiago also emphasized the many resources CSI offers students like Curricular Practical Training (CPT), OPT, and externship opportunities.

“CSI combines all of the things you really look for,” he concluded.

If you’re ready to kick-start your career like Santiago, look no further than CSI’s career programs. Grow your career in business, healthcare, or IT—or improve your English proficiency with our ESL programs. CSI is proud to support international students from all over the world who want to learn and chart their own journey to success in the U.S. Visit our admissions page or call 847-967-5030 to learn more about our programs and opportunities for international students.