Student Spotlight: Keenan Guillas

Keenan Guillas

Keenan was our graduate student recipient of the Louie Barozzi Scholarship this year that recognized SJSU international students for their contributions to the community and commitment to international education.

Major: MS in Marine Science

Home Country: Canada


What would you say is your greatest accomplishment during your time at SJSU?

This fall I have been accepted to participate in a one-week training course in my field in Blanes, Spain, and the following week I will be presenting preliminary data from my thesis research at the largest international conference in my field in Leiden, The Netherlands. Being able to network with the international research community and receive training and feedback about my research from prominent researchers in the field will be hugely important for the continued development both of my research at SJSU, as well as of my professional skillset and network for after graduate school.

What student or community organizations, internships, etc. are you involved with? How has your involvement impacted your SJSU experience?

I serve as Student Body Vice President of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML), SJSU’s marine science campus located on Monterey Bay, where I complete all course and thesis requirements for my SJSU degree. I am also an editor on MLML’s student-run blog, and I mentor undergraduate students from CSUMB through their Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center. These experiences have helped me become a tight part of the MLML community and work for the change students need; have helped me develop skills in science communication and outreach; and have lent me agency to strengthen the relationship between research programs and students at SJSU and CSUMB.

What is your advice/message to fellow international students?

As international students, the logistics and finances of our situation at school is, from the start, more tricky to balance than it is for domestic students. This creates a higher hurdle we must clear in order to achieve success, and at the beginning of my time at SJSU, this was discouraging. However, perhaps because of this very disparity, I realized early on that building an extensive personal and professional support network at MLML/SJSU would be crucial to my success in my program, and I have thus become even more involved in my community than I think I would have as a domestic student. In community-building and in academic and professional work, I think my status as an international student has pushed me to achieve more and reach for higher goals than I otherwise would have. I have at times had a larger workload than other students might, but I have also met with much higher rewards and a stronger feeling of success than I perhaps would have at an institution in my own country. My advice to fellow international students is that the way to success as an international student is to recognize and accept our increased challenges, and to treat them not as burdens or hindrances but as motivators to soar even higher and achieve greatness.

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