Aayush Agarwal

OPT Success Story: Aayush Agarwal

International students list finding an employment opportunity as the number one factor in determining where they will live after graduation. Aayush Agarwal is no different.

Aayush came to the U.S. from India to study Automotive Engineering at Lawrence Technological University. Like many others in his program, he was drawn to Lawrence Tech and Michigan because of the superior educational and employment opportunities in his chosen specialty. While the harsh Michigan winters make him question his decision to remain, Aayush was able to secure employment with MAHLE Behr, a Tier-1 Automotive Supplier, as an Associate Product Engineer. This made his decision much easier.


Aayush is only one example of the thousands of students working during their Optional Practical Training (OPT) period. OPT is temporary work authorization for international students on F-1 student visas, generally used after a student graduates. All international students are eligible for at least 12 months of OPT after completion of a US degree program. International students who complete a degree with a major in a federally designated STEM field are eligible to apply for 17 additional months of OPT, thus making them eligible for up to 29 total months of work authorization after degree completion.

MAHLE Behr obviously understands the importance of hiring international students such as Aayush. Nearly 40% of Master’s Degree students in Mechanical Engineering in the U.S. are issued to international students. However, many companies, as part of their general policies, automatically disqualify international students if they will ever need sponsorship. This is not only discouraging for international students, but also limits their choice of candidates.

Aayush Agarwal

In his free time, Aayush enjoys playing cricket in summer, photography, and exploring new places.

Student Spotlight: Dorcas Adhiambo Opiyo

Meet Dorcas Adhiambo Opiyo! Originally from Kenya, Dorcas attended Eastern Michigan University, earning her Masters degree in Healthcare Administration. She chose Eastern Michigan University for the school’s international community, affordable tuition, and proximity to a relative!

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 10.57.18 AMDorcas is currently working in Michigan on OPT and is seeking a H1-B visa sponsored job before her OPT expires. She would love the opportunity to stay in Michigan because she is able to find more opportunities for professional growth compared to other states. “Having studied and lived in Michigan for two years now, I have become accustomed to Michigan and feel like it is my home away from home,” says Dorcas.

Although she enjoys Michigan, Dorcas does miss her family, friends, food and weather in Kenya. It is summer year round, after all!

Dorcas faces many challenges when applying for jobs in Michigan because she is an international student. Many employers do not have the information or knowledge they need to hire international students. “Several employers I have approached are reluctant to consider hiring an international student on a student visa,” Dorcas says. She believes her education and profession are beneficial to various healthcare needs in Michigan.Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 10.57.03 AM

Though this can be discouraging, Dorcas finds ways to enjoy her ‘home away from home,’ partaking in activities such as bowling, taking walks, cooking, reading, listening to music and hanging out with family and friends. She has also explored Michigan for school projects and group meetings, visiting Livonia, Brighton, Westland, Detroit, Dearborn, Farmington Hills, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Royal Oak, and Belleville!

Dorcas is ready to brave the Michigan winter as she dives deeper into her health administration career!

If you would like to contact Dorcas about a job opportunity, please contact info@migtri.org!

Student Spotlight: Sangeeth Sudharaka Pushewalage


Sangeeth Sudharaka Pushewalage is originally from Sri Lanka.  He left his country for the Sangeeth.PushewalageSangeeth.Pushewalagefirst time to come to Michigan for college.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting and finance.  Sangeeth is now starting to pursue his Master of Science in accounting in fall 2014 at Grand Valley State University.  He is currently the only Sri Lankan student at his University.

Sangeeth is currently on OPT, which will be expiring in December 2014.  He will be eligible for CPT as soon as he starts his graduate program in the fall.

The number one reason Sangeeth chose Grand Valley to pursue his Master’s Degree is because of Grand Valley’s positive reputation for their Seidman Business School.  Sangeeth received a scholarship to fund his tuition expenses.  Grand Valley was a smart choice for Sangeeth because Grand Valley is the best value school, has a supportive international student program and his credits transferred easily.

Sangeeth has had difficulties in finding an internship being an international student.  He has been previously told by employers that he has all the qualifications for a specific job but these companies were hesitant to hire him.  They would not have been able to hire him as a full time employee after giving him an internship.  Some employers even rejected interviewing him because they knew they would have to sponsor him for an H1-B visa.


Eventually Sangeeth was able to land an internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in Detroit.  Having completed that internship, he is currently waiting to begin his next internship with Perrigo Company in Allegan, Mich.

Sangeeth has adjusted to the cold Michigan weather, but misses the year round warm weather in Sri Lanka.  “Being the only child in my family makes me miss my parents a lot,” Sangeeth said after being asked about what he misses about home. He misses hanging out with his friends as well.

Sangeeth’s hobbies include listening to music, playing basketball, shooting pool and hanging out with his friends.  He also likes to research about new technological products in the market.

Sangeeth Pushewalage

Sangeeth Pushewalage


Sangeeth has visited many beautiful places within Sri Lanka including Hunnas Falls, Anuradhapura, and Polonnaruwa.  He also got the chance to explore the United States when he came here for school.  Sangeeth got the opportunity to travel to Chicago and Anaheim, California with his fraternity Beta Alpha Psi.  He also trained in Tampa, Florida for his internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Sangeeth plans to stay in Michigan.  He has adjusted to the environment of West Michigan after living there for a few years.  He has also made a lot of friends in the area.  Sangeeth wants to give back to West Michigan by working there. Sangeeth.Pushewalage

Sangeeth will seek a job in Michigan to start after he receives his masters in January 2016.

Brazilian Students seek Academic Training Opportunities

Danilo, Gabriel, Caroline, and Paulo are all students taking part in the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program. This is a multi-year initiative sponsored by the Brazilian government to send 75,000 Brazilian students abroad for training in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. These four students came to the University of Michigan-Dearborn for this training. As part of that training, they are seeking summer internships.

Danilo Costa de Sousa Ferreira

Danilo Costa de Sousa Ferreira

Danilo Costa de Sousa Ferreira is majoring in Mechanical Mechatronic Engineering with an expected graduation date of December 2015. Says Danilo, “I was born and raised in Teresina-PI, but moved to Recife-PE, to attend college. Through this current exchange opportunity I was given an unbelievable chance to advance my academic knowledge. Furthermore, I wanted to improve my English proficiency and acquire an amazing experience of life abroad.  In my field of study, I am highly interested in Control Systems, Dynamics and Industrial Robotics. It is my passion – I have had previous experience with this area through academic classes and projects. In the future, I really hope to grow professionally and academically with an internship experience. With that knowledge, I will be ready to help develop my country.”



Gabriel Marques Tavares

Gabriel Marques Tavares

Gabriel Marques Tavares is majoring in Computer Science with an expected graduation date of December 2016. Says Gabriel, “Since my early teens I knew what my passion was. Computer Science showed up as a way to solve problems and make people’s lives easier and more enjoyable. Software Development is my area of expertise; I would be more than happy to expand and work upon what I have already learned. Also, I have some background on app development for the Android operating system. I am excited to apply knowledge acquired here in United States when I return to Brazil. This way, I will be able to make everyones’ lives better and contribute to society with the skills I have gained.”



Caroline Maul de Araujo Lima

Caroline Maul de Araujo Lima

Caroline Maul de Araujo Lima is majoring in Computer Engineering with an expected graduation date of December 2015. Says Caroline, “I am an undergraduate student in Computer Engineering, and I am looking for an internship opportunity during the summer in my area of studies, which is mainly in infrastructure, servers and networking. Currently, I am an exchange student at the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Also in my home country, Brazil, I am an undergraduate student in Physics. In both areas, I am a senior student. My main objective is find something that can instruct me and make me grow, always seeking growth between the company and me.

I have worked for almost three years in companies as an engineering student, and I could acquire some knowledge in maintenance of physical servers; also in cloud computing and networking.


Paulo Ricardo Ribeiro

Paulo Ricardo Ribeiro

Paulo Ricardo Ribeiro is majoring in Industrial Engineering with an expected graduation date of December 2015. Says Paulo, ” I have completed three academics years in Brazil, and came to United States of America to study one more year with the support of the Brazilian government. It is a wonderful opportunity to be here because I will improve both my English language skills and learn a new culture. My goal for this summer is to find an internship to gain additional practical experience in the Industrial field. In my free time I like to meet people, play soccer, read books, and listen to music.”




For the purposes of the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, Academic Training (AT) is an internship, co-op, observership, or practicum that takes place during the summer. Students may engage in diverse opportunities such as an internship, full-time research (often in on-campus labs at their host institution or at another university), or observership of a professional in a specific industry.

GTRI is partnering with UofM-Dearborn to place these talented and high achieving student scholars from Brazil this upcoming summer of 2014 (roughly May-August). No visa sponsorship, work authorization, financial support or health insurance coverage needs to be provided to the student during the Academic Training opportunity as these are benefits of their scholarship program.

If you are interested in this opportunity here are a few more things to consider:

  • Academic Training can take place either on-or off-campus, and be paid or unpaid.
  • Academic Training should be full-time (at least 35 hours per week). Exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis.
  • Academic Training should be no shorter than eight weeks in duration.

If you are interested in finding out more about these international students and providing an opportunity, please contact Randy Dillard at the University of Michigan-Dearborn at rdillard@umich.edu