International students welcome new adviser

In an attempt to cope with international student population growth, Tech’s International Students Affairs Office has recently hired Andrew Bleignier, immigration specialists and students adviser. “I was hired to assist the director because this office is currently expanding and sees the rise among international students,” he said. “It’s getting much harder to coordinate the international population growth.”

He has to coordinate all immigration activity for all visa categories and get in touch with embassy officers in different countries.

He is sure that he will gain valuable experience at Tech and learn more about how technical universities operate.

“Arkansas State University focuses mainly on general education for undergraduate students, but not on advanced subjects like engineering,” Bleignier said. “Tennessee Tech has a great school of engineering and gives a lot of opportunities for science research.”

“Going to different locations, interacting with people, determines how small the planet is,” he said. “When you deal with extremely friendly individuals who want to show their culture, you start understanding you’re not necessarily alone. You’re not isolated, and your culture is much less important than the whole human experience.”

“My internationalization had occurred before college,” he said.

While in college, Bleignier took a three-week trip to China in January 2003. It was a combination of a band tour and cultural study. He learnt Chinese political science, economics and lifestyle. During his trip to China, Bleignier visited six major cities, including internationalized Shanghai and Beijing. Shortly after returning from China he had to go to Spain. He did a full semester study in Granada.

Having earned a bachelor degree in government and international affairs, Bleignier studied in Spain, Mexico and China before he got a nine-month internship in the International Office of Augustana College in South Dakota.

“All these things put my interest on international education,” he said.

After his graduation from South Dakota Augustana College in 2005, Bleignier had to find a job connected with international education.

“I didn’t care the type of job,” he said. “Finally, I received the position of International Student Advisor at Arkansas State University.”

He worked there five years and held three different positions, each a promotion from the other. His last position was Immigration Specialist and Advisor. In 2006, Bleignier started as a part-time graduate student and graduated in 2010 with master degree.

“I wanted to apply for a new position to improve my professional skills,” he said, “so I chose Tennessee Tech.