From Venezuela to Minnesota: A profile of Anacorina Velasco

Allison Mueller

Senior Anacorina Velasco, an international student                    at Winona State. (Photo by Susan Torkelson)
Senior Anacorina Velasco, an international student
at Winona State. (Photo by Susan Torkelson)

Dana Scott/Winonan

To pursue her dreams of one day becoming a chief executive officer of a company, Anacorina (Cora) Velasco traded big city life in Caracas, Venezuela for small town life in Winona to chase opportunities and embrace the experience of being an international student.

Her journey to get where she is today was not always an easy one, and she knows she has a lot of work to do to get where she wants to be.

Velasco said she brought with her to Winona State University the hard work ethic of the Venezuelan culture in which she was raised.

Velasco, a senior majoring in business administration, said she was drawn to Winona State by the beautiful campus, town, people and the opportunities. These opportunities included a scholarship and getting involved on campus with multiple organizations.

During her sophomore year, Velasco became a Resident Assistant and got involved with the Ambassador program in Admissions. In addition, Velasco is an ambassador for “What R U Wearing,” an online forum for fashion inspiration.

Velasco can also be found using her energetic and encouraging disposition to teach weekday night Zumba fitness classes in the Integrated Wellness Center.

Velasco’s advice for other international students is to embrace the experience and get involved on campus and with other students. Velasco said that it is going to be hard at the beginning, but to be open; it’s a learning experience, and the hardships will pay off in the end.

Velasco admitted that freshman year was hard for her. She elaborated, saying that it was difficult because her English was not good then, which made going to classes difficult for her.

Velasco started learning English when she was four years old, but at the age of twelve, when she started speaking English in school, she finally felt fluent. However, upon arriving at Winona State, Velasco knew she still had a lot to learn.

Velasco’s number one piece of advice to domestic students when interacting with international students is to be patient, because international students struggle with the language and they are making a huge effort.

The language is not the only thing that is difficult for international students; according to Velasco, it is also being so far away from home. Velasco describes her home as a very tropical, beautiful country that was a great place to grow up.

When asked if anything in Winona reminds her of home, Velasco’s first response was genuine laughter, followed by, “No, not at all.”

She explained that she likes that Winona is so different from Caracas, because in a big city everyone is stressed and lives immense lifestyles. She likes that lifestyle, but is glad she can have it without the stress of a big city.

Velasco has dealt with being so far away from home by using her phone to stay in touch with people, and remembering what happened to her throughout the day so she can tell her parents. She said they were sad to see her leave, but encourage her to do the best she can.

Velasco’s experiences here at Winona State University can teach all students, not just international students, to look for and take opportunities in life, to never stop working toward your dreams, and to have fun on your way there.