Global Wildcat and University Fellows Program Recipient Arrives in Tucson

May 26, 2021

With help from the ISS team and University Fellows cohort, this doctoral student can now call UArizona and Tucson 'home'


Meet Carlos Krapp-López, a doctoral student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese whose research focuses on syntax in Hispanic linguistics.

When Carlos’ journey to the University of Arizona was complicated by COVID-19 travel restrictions, the International Student Services (ISS) team jumped into action to make his arrival and transition possible.

Carlos grew up in Lima, Peru, where he graduated with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Linguistics from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. A professor and mentor in his master’s program had been at UArizona for several years and recommended that Carlos come to Tucson to continue his research and pursue a PhD in Hispanic Linguistics in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.  

When he was accepted into the Hispanic Linguistics program, in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese (DSP) in early 2020, nobody knew the challenges that were ahead, not only for Carlos but for international students pursuing higher education around the globe. Those challenges soon became clear.

After graduating from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Carlos taught in Peru for 11 years as a university level teaching assistant and academic writing instructor, and as a middle and high school Spanish teacher.

Pursuing a PhD at the University of Arizona has been part of Carlos’ career plan to become a professor and researcher in Linguistics. His interests are in derivational morphology – the process of creating a new word from an existing word – and the syntax of pronominal clitics across varieties of Spanish. 

When he applied, Carlos received a prestigious University Fellows award and became one of the 20 members of the 2020-2021 cohort.

The University Fellows Program is the flagship initiative of the Graduate Center. Recipients receive a competitive financial package, professional development programming, mentoring and community engagement opportunities, and a richly interdisciplinary cohort. The goals of the University Fellows Program are to recruit the best students to the University of Arizona; develop interdisciplinary scholars, artists, and practitioners who are the next generation of leaders; and promote collaborative innovation on campus and throughout our broader communities.

With news of the fellowship, the incentive to get to Tucson became more urgent. But, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and delayed embassy appointments, Carlos’ plans had to be adjusted. He was not alone in this situation.

The University of Arizona typically hosts around 4,000 international students and scholars annually.

“International students who have been admitted and plan to attend the University of Arizona in person on our main campus in Tucson have a few critical steps to go through before they arrive,” says Lara Pfaff, a program director at Arizona Global, “and the ISS team helps those students with everything from I-20 issuance to travel and arrival logistics and the transition to life in the United States.”

Unable to travel to the U.S. for the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester, and not wanting to lose status in the University Fellows program, Carlos began his fellowship and PhD studies online. While ISS continued to work with him as plans evolved, he spent the fall semester participating in his courses from his home in Lima through the Main Campus Online modality, taking three classes and meeting weekly for interdisciplinary colloquia with the fellowship cohort via Zoom.

Throughout the fall semester Carlos’ goal remained: to get to Arizona. Through his own persistence and with support from several departments and individuals on campus, the dream was finally achieved.

The ISS team helped him renew and shift his I-20 document – the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status – to Spring 2021. ISS offered guidance and support in making travel arrangements and in securing his student visa.

“I could not have done this without the support of Professor Meg Lota Brown, director of the Graduate Center, and David Bradshaw, assistant director of the Graduate Center, who worked with me through the entire process,” said Carlos. “I also want to thank my colleagues in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Isela Gonzales-Cook, DPS program coordinator, and Professor Miquel Simonet, director of graduate studies in DSP, who arranged for my position in the department, and who, in spite of the delays in getting here, have welcomed me into the program.”

In late January 2021, with the spring semester just underway, and after months of anticipation, Carlos stepped off a plane in Tucson, Arizona.

Upon arriving, Carlos said, “My first impression was surprise that it was not winter, in the sense that I had thought it would be. It was so warm and sunny.”

With help from the ISS team and his University Fellows cohort, Carlos has settled in. He is in a Graduate Assistant position and moving forward with his research and degree program.

“I’m so appreciative of the community of friends and colleagues I have in DSP and in the University Fellows program,” Carlos said. “They have helped me to integrate into the university and the academic community. I feel very much at home here.”

In addition to linguistics, Carlos enjoys soccer and 90’s alternative rock. He has already found a location in Tucson to continue his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practice.

“I love the University of Arizona campus,” says Carlos. “I look forward to exploring it and to learning more about Tucson as I make it my home for the next few years.”

Stories like this abound these days, of perseverance and of individuals stepping up to challenges.

Each case requires its own set of solutions, and a team with the experience to know what to do.

In 2020, and continuing into 2021, the ISS team has helped countless international students like Carlos stay on track toward a U.S. degree, despite challenging circumstances. We really mean it when we say, “You are welcome here!”

University of Arizona Global International Student Service (ISS) assists international students along their journey, providing resources from travel to arrival, helping Global Wildcats transition to their life as a student at the University. The experienced team helps with travel—including handling I-20 and other form requests—with navigating the student visa process, immunization records and health insurance, accommodations, CatCards, student employment, check-in and Orientation programming. The Global Center on Park is the hub on campus for all of the services and resources an international student needs, and the Global Center Online provides helpful links, news and updates, and is the virtual home base for locating resources, virtual drop-in and advising appointments, and other relevant links that a student will need.