Welcome to the Northern Virginia Community College Website

Accessibility Navigation:


International Student from Mexico has a Desire to Inspire 

International Student from Mexico has a Desire to Inspire 

This International Women’s Day, we celebrate Paola Septien Brown who wants to continue to inspire and hopes to transfer and study international business. Brown will be graduating this May and walking across the stage at NOVA’s spring commencement. Hear from her about her goals, her experiences and why she encourages other international students to come to NOVA to meet people from all over the world.  

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background: 

I am 26, and I am from Guanajuato, Mexico, and I decided to study abroad in the U.S. I started the journey in 2019 right before the pandemic. I was looking for a college experience in the U.S. and got to experience it on campus for one semester. It was hard to adapt in the digital world during the pandemic.  

What brought you to NOVA?  

In 2016, I came to the U.S. on an exchange program for two years and realized I really wanted to do education in the U.S. further. One of my advisors in a prior exchange program was Polish and had actually gone to NOVA in the early 90s. She was the one who inspired me to attend college in the U.S.  

What are you studying at NOVA?  

I just wrapped up courses in business administration at NOVA and look forward to attending my commencement this May. I always had ambitions to open my own business. Finally, I loved being on campus and exposed to the diversity at NOVA. This area is very diverse. I meet so many people from other cultures and countries and religious backgrounds and have been able to make long-lasting friendships  

Where do you see yourself after NOVA or what career pursuits are you exploring?  

I see myself transferring to George Mason, and I plan to continue to study business management with a concentration in business analytics. I always wanted to do international business, and as a teenager, I even had a small baking business. I look forward to expanding what I know about business with the courses that I am taking and to keep learning.   

Tell Us About Your Experience at NOVA, i.e., professors you've liked and friends you've met.  

I enjoyed all the support services here at NOVA, especially the international student’s office, Career Connection, and I loved all of my professors. I pretty much enjoyed all of my classes and enjoyed all the friends that I have made.  

I enjoyed working with Absera Abraham. Haruka Fesi has always been great to work with. I enjoyed some of the events, in-person and via zoom. I have enjoyed professors like: Raymond Cook, Elizabeth Doyle and Alicia Edwards.  

I am currently taking Operational Practical Training for International Students. I will be transferring to Mason by Spring 2024 

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA? 

I would tell other students that are international or from abroad that I would strongly encourage them to attend NOVA. It is a great way to start your college path. It is also cost effective for an international student to start here and then transfer. It is so great to meet people all over the world since you are taking ESL classes before your program starts. Enjoy your time at NOVA and take advantage of all the resources that are available on campus.  

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest public institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls nearly 80,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield (Medical Education Campus) and Woodbridge, through NOVA Online and high school dual enrollment. We offer more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs to help our students reach their academic and professional goals through university transfers and access to the most in-demand careers. At NOVA, we strive to ensure that every student succeeds, every program achieves and every community prospers. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, visit our website, www.nvcc.eduor call 703.323.3000.