The UMKC International Ambassador program consists of selectively chosen international and domestic students to serve as official university diplomats. International Ambassadors are available to act as hosts/hostesses at a variety of university events, as guides to university visitors and prospective students, and as the primary contact for admitted students regarding questions about UMKC, Kansas City or the United States. They also serve as an aid to new international students in the transition process from their home country to the United States and UMKC.



Khurshed Akabirov (Uzbekistan)
Chemistry BS

Male student wearing a blue UMKC polo seated at a table on campus with his back to a window.

I was born and raised in the Republic of Uzbekistan.  I started my school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) in August 2015.  My major is Chemistry BS.  In my sophomore year, I was offered a position of Junior Enrollment Services Coordinator in the International Student Affairs Office (ISAO) in UMKC.  In my junior year, I was a research assistant in the Positron Annihilation Spectroscopy Lab and worked on the project of identifying the porosity of glass, quartz and wood materials.  At the same year (2017), I worked as on online Math and Science Tutor, I taught from College Algebra up to Calculus 3 and from General Chemistry up to Inorganic Chemistry.  In 2018, I became the first Uzbek International Student Ambassador in ISAO, UMKC.  In the following year, I received an offer from the Department of Chemistry, position of Chemistry Teaching Assistant.  Now, I am in my senior year.  Next year, right after I graduate, I will apply for my PhD either in Chemistry or in Pharmacy.  My goad is to work in the pharmaceutical industry.



Ricardo Aristiguieta-Pulgar (Venezuela)
Accounting BS

Male student wearing blue UMKC polo seated at a table inside a campus building

I came to the U.S. a few years ago to study and improve myself.  I’m from Venezuela where education is very important and encourage and since then I have done my best to experience new things, stay involved and make new friends.  As an Undergraduate Accounting student, not only does the Bloch School offer classes with amazing professors, the school also offers plenty of opportunities to get involved on campus. While Kansas City itself offers many activities for enrichment and entertainment including museums, theaters, parks and more.  I think there is no better place to learn and experience life than UMKC.



Felipe de Avila Braga (Brazil)
Civil Engineering BS

Male student in blue UMKC polo standing outside on campus

I am a civil engineering student from Brazil who loves to be around people.  Soccer and music are a big deal for me.  I love to go and serve at church.  Playing drums might be one of my favorite hobbies.



Joshua Koni (Cameroon)
Computer Science BS

Male student wearing blue UMKC polo seated inside with hands resting on the table in front of him.

I think of myself as an adventurer, taking pleasure in getting to discover the scenery around me and most especially the people.  I came to Kansas City as an AFS foreign exchange student, stayed with a host family that inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and seize the opportunities that came my way.  My dream as a child was to someday study abroad, to enable me to explore the world.  UMKC allows me to do so with its diversity, UMKC is so diverse to the point that if feels like the world really meets here.  It is always amazing to meet and listen to the stories of both students and faculty from other parts of the globe, it makes you realize just how much of an ambassador you are.  Having the world converge here, allows me to share and learn about other cultures, that is why my first semester as a freshman I decided to meet a new person every single day.  This has helped me to build a network on campus where I can go to for assistance, especially for my future career.  As a student ambassador, I hope to help enhance the understanding and contribute to the inclusion of all the students.  I love Kansas City and cannot wait to see the opportunities it will provide for my field of studies.



Bingshiun Low (Malaysia)
Economics Ph.D.

Male student wearing blue UMKC polo seated at a table inside campus building, one arm resting on the table in front of him and the other at his side.

I always believe that “Be comfort in your uncomfortable zone”. This brings me from Malaysia to Kansas City. Although it takes me a while to adapt to current life, but I would say choosing UMKC is one of the greatest choices in my life. Coming here with my passion and excitement, UMKC has fulfilled my expectation. As a graduate student in UMKC, I am very proud to say they provide a good system and support for all the students. At the same time, Kansas City is a great city for business opportunity and living. It is challenging to be here as an international student, but no pain no gain, with the dedication and support in UMKC and Kansas City, I believe I can do it and everyone can do it.



Jose Pineda-Lugo (Venezuela)
Mechanical Engineering BS

Male student wearing blue UMKC polo seated at a table inside campus building with arms crossed in front of him, resting on the table.

Four years ago, my life took an unexpected turn.  I decided to learn a new language to challenge myself.  I left my family back home in Venezuela, to start a new chapter of my life.  Originally, I was only meant to study English at a small college in Kansas City.  That first semester that I was learning English I had the opportunity to visit what is now my home school, “The University of Missouri in Kansas City,” but I didn’t know that at the time.  I was amazed by the wonderful campus that they had, the friendly and helpful staff that they had and of course by the amazing soccer field.  On that day, I started to dream about getting by Bachelor’s degree in the United States.  UMKC offered me everything I could possibly think of!  They offer great scholarships for international students which makes it more affordable than any other institution, they have an amazing group of faculty and staff that help you in every way possible to achieve your goals.  They offer great academic programs with a lot of distinctions and how to forget their amazing campus and location?  Close to the beautiful Kansas City downtown!  The place that inspired me to get a great education, became the place where I will accomplish my biggest dream. . . yet!



Sai Siva Kumar Pinnepalli (India)
Chemistry and Physics IPhD

Male student wearing blue UMKC polo seated at a table inside campus building with arms crossed in front of him, resting on the table.

I used to turn the toys my dad used to bring home into pieces just to know how they work (consequences followed!).  The passion emerged out of curiosity coupled with inquisitiveness to unravel the vast world engulfed in a nanoworld of atoms enthused me to pursue higher education in chemistry and physics.  Born and brought up in a small district of Southern India (Anantapur), pursuing higher education in the US has been a dream since childhood.  I obtained my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in chemistry from SSSIHL, Puttaparti.  The Interdisciplinary PhD program offered at UMKC attracted me a lot, I knew I found my destination.  I became a bold, professional and an accountable person within a year.  Kansas City welcomed me with lush greenery, its exploration never ends, and I love this place.  It’s a good opportunity to learn different cultures and become more aware as a seeker.  I thank my family and relatives for their support.  At leisure times I play volleyball, shuttle badminton and sing songs.  I take this opportunity to extend a warm welcome to all the international students to the knowledge hub.


Vivian Zheng (China)
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Female student wearing blue UMKC polo standing outside on campus with city in the background.

Since I first played a game on a computer I knew that would be my passion in the future, I have always enjoyed computer and programing. My favorite thing about UMKC is the studying atmosphere, after I visited the campus two years ago I knew this would be a place I could grow and develop. When i started studying at UMKC, the friendly professors and students helped me fit in, since this is a total different education system from my home country. While studying at UMKC, I sharpened my professional skills, made friends from multiple countries, and also experienced the colorful local culture.


View the 2017-2018 Student Ambassadors

View the 2016-2017 Student Ambassadors