The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

Tarleton State’s International Culture Night

A celebration of cultures far and wide

For the fall 2023 semester, demographic statistics reported that a tremendous 44 countries are represented by the various students attending Tarleton State University. Of those 44 countries that are represented, there are a whopping 107 international students who enrolled and have since then become Tarleton Texans at heart. Moreover, out of those 107 students, around 50% of those students are incredibly talented student athletes. 

Throughout the past few decades, Tarleton State University has taken pride in providing an encouraging and welcoming environment to a multitude of students, staff, and faculty from a number of different backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultural origins. 

This past month on the evening of Jan. 30, Tarleton State was able to showcase a fraction of how much international students and their culture means to the university and its student population by hosting an International Culture Night in the Barry B. Thompson Student Center on campus. 

“Come take part in a series of icebreakers and activities that will guide student conversation/participation about cultural similarities and uniqueness to increase global perspectives and connections,” the Tarleton State University website encouraged. 

Story continues below advertisement

Shaquinnsha Hilliard, the headlining host of the event, was originally inspired to arrange International Culture Night mainly for the likes of her international students, but to also organize an event that embraced the paramount principles that are deeply cherished within the Office of Student Global and Community Connections. 

Hilliard firmly believes in hosting events – like International Culture Night – that make people feel special and seen despite the hectic, monotonous, humdrum routine that college students traverse through on a daily basis. 

“The inspiration behind this event was to just get people together so that we can really immerse and blend with one another, and to be the bridge that connects country to country and culture to culture,” Hilliard expressed. “It is important to not only connect our domestic students with our international students, but to also give international students a chance to connect with other international students because after all… they are both a long way from home. It is a little bit easier to mix and mingle with other people and get out of your comfort zone when you have someone there that you have something in common with.” 

In addition to Hilliard, other Tarleton State faculty from the Office of Student Global and Community Connections were in attendance as well including, Dr. Florencio U. Aranda III, Mr. Malik Miles, and Ms. Christine Pruitt. 

Pruitt, the Senior International Student Advisor for the Office of Student Global and Community Connections, is a dynamic and progressive advocate for all students both near and far. 

“[We aim to] encourage a sense of belonging and community by having [students] participate in events like these. It also exposes them not only to other students that aren’t from their country, but from many other countries as well so that they may all feel more like a Tarleton Texan rather than an international student,” Pruitt reassured. 

At the event, former international student, Fletcher Matandika, was able to share his testimony about what it was like being a student from overseas while he attended school at a university in San Diego, California. 

Prior to attending university in California, Fletcher originally hailed from Malawi, a country in southeastern Africa. Currently, Fletcher is a pastor at the Lighthouse Community Church in Stephenville, and he now has two incredibly smart and exquisite children of his own. 

“God sent us to Stephenville – to Tarleton State,” Fletcher expressed. 

Furthermore, in addition to the icebreaker groups and fun games, throughout the event, Fletcher’s 11-year-old son, CJ, managed to teach a few words in Chichewa, the national language of Malawi, to his fellow International Culture Night attendees. 

Though the demographic statistics for the current spring 2024 semester have not been computed yet, the numbers are surely bound to be just as impressive and awe-inspiring as the ones seen this past semester. 

Regardless of background, ethnicity, or cultural origins, Tarleton State proudly welcomes, embraces, and cherishes everyone who is willing to join the Texan family. 

For information regarding Tarleton State University’s Office of Student Global and Community Connections, International Culture Night, and other upcoming events please visit and

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Campbell Burnett
Campbell Burnett, Content Editor

Comments (0)

All the JTAC Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *