A Worthy Journey: International Alumnus Comes Full Circle
Many alumni who graduate from University of Findlay have such a valuable experience on campus, that they begin to feel a certain call to circle back around and assist current students and future graduates. They do so because they know what and where a UF education will get them if they take advantage of all that it has to offer.
With his positive outlook on the time he spent at UF in its Environment, Health, and Safety Management graduate program, Madan Sai Adapala M ’17 has both the knowledge and the passion it takes to guide students, particularly those who, like him, come to UF from a different part of the world. In an effort to come full circle, he has begun consulting with UF to help potential international students, like he once was, by working with the Office of International Admissions and Immigration Services at UF to learn the ins and outs of recruiting and retaining students to help them get to the University and thrive upon arrival. “I feel like I can assist,” he said. “There are a lot of great things about UF that I can explain to students and get them to understand.”
Madan has very recently established SAMS Overseas Consultancy and will be recruiting students for the University of Findlay from his hometown in the Nellore District in India. “The University of Findlay is always very proud of the successes of our alumni,” said Rebecca Jenkins, assistant vice president of enrollment and marketing at Findlay. “It is a really special thing to be able to support one of our alumni with their career goals by partnering with Madan on his new business adventure. I am also looking forward to welcoming new students to Findlay that Madan has recruited.”
Born and raised near the Indian Ocean in the southern part of India, Adapala came from humble beginnings, the son of a farmer father who grew rice and raised shrimp and fish. He received his undergraduate degree in civil engineering from Osmania University in the city of Hyderabad, working through language gaps and the resulting difficulty with class presentations while there, as well as the perils of being what he described as an “okay student who sat in the back of the class.” This real life and college experience, and the identification with the struggles that international students might face, is exactly the type of knowledge that makes Adapala a helpful guide for UF students who make the leap toward further education from one country to another.
Adapala had his first connection to his future graduate school focus when working a job as a site engineer at an excavation site after graduating from Osmania. Ensuring the safety of the site and its workers was a part of his daily routine for the few years he worked the job, but, he said, as many in the workforce who are introduced to new avenues and ideas do, he aspired to more. Graduate school seemed like a logical step toward building on his knowledge of safety, so Adapala hired a consultant to help him find a university. A friend had told him to check out educational opportunities in the United States, and the consultant was familiar with the success of UF’s EHS program; noting his experience, he recommended UF to Adapala.
He applied for and was issued an I-20, and Adapala began studying everything about University of Findlay and its EHS graduate program. “I prepared by reading about the professors and the classes [and] I studied UF history,” he said. He learned about the availability of paid internships and the 100% job placement, among other attributes of the program, and knew within a short period of time that it was the place for him to be. Before he knew it, he was on his way.
After the long trip from India, Adapala said, his positive experience at UF began almost immediately upon arriving on campus. He lived in a welcome house while waiting for more permanent housing, and was soon made to feel like an Oiler for life by the many people he came across. He was president of the Indian student division for the International Students Association, during which he was able to speak to many students from all kinds of backgrounds, helping them with finding resources on campus and for internship opportunities. He worked with the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program to help students with language barriers, where, he said, he got to meet and learn about a lot of different nationalities; and during the sand volleyball games he played in on campus every weekend during the warmer months, he said, students were welcoming and encouraging to everyone.
Regularly taking advantage of the help he was offered within the program was one of the paths Adapala took toward success, and he thinks that doing so will surely accomplish the same for other students. There is always, he said, the opportunity to speak with professors and faculty, and, as a result, get the guidance needed to navigate successfully through the Oiler Experience. He noted that assistant professor of teaching in EHSS William J. Doyle, Ph.D, with whom he continues to be in contact, is “one of the great ones,” and that there are so many other great people and things about UF that it became like a home to him. As a result of both his own preparation and the guidance of UF faculty and staff, Adapala quickly became a 3.4 GPA graduate student at Findlay. “It was a perfect experience for me,” he explained.
Now working as the environment, health, and safety manager at Daehan Solution in Romulus, MI, Adapala handles audits, observations, machine safety assessments, and the safety training and education of employees. He credits UF’s All Hazards Training Center and what he learned there as the biggest tool to succeed in the workplace. “The hands-on experience was very important,” he said. “We learned about confined space emergency response and hazmat clean up and much more.” This experiential learning, he added, is the difference-maker for UF.
Adapala said that he would love for Sreeja, his wife of two years, and their five-month-old daughter Aadya to one day move back to Findlay to live for a period, before ultimately settling down back in India. For now, he begins the process of once again working with UF, this time as his alma mater, and now well-familiar with what it takes to be a successful international student at the University. “You have to work hard to make luck work. You can’t wait. Grab it and go and give 100% of yourself,” he suggested. It’s good advice, and most likely only a sliver of what he can offer to UF and its students going forward.