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Finding Clarity Liz Mira Santi ’24 came to W&L as a Gunn Scholar in 2023, and her time on campus has expanded her worldview and reinforced her ambitions.

Liza-Mira-Santi-scaled-600x400 Finding Clarity

Spending a year at Washington and Lee University on an international exchange has opened doors for Haliza Maulida (Liz) Mira Santi ’24, allowing her to explore opportunities that expand her worldview and reinforce her ambitions.

Santi first came to the United States in 2019 as a high school exchange student and appreciated the ability to explore different areas of interest both in and out of the classroom.

“I had a wonderful experience with the U.S. education system, and this made me curious about the learning experience in U.S. colleges, especially liberal arts colleges, because I am eager to explore areas beyond my major,” Santi said. “I was intrigued by the well-rounded experience, wanting to be in small classes and having engaging discussions with the professors.”

Santi’s search for a well-rounded liberal arts education led her straight to W&L; she was studying at Diponegoro University in her home country of Indonesia when she applied for and was awarded the Gunn Scholarship in 2023.

Established in 2000, the John M. Gunn International Scholarship invites eligible international students of exceptional academic, personal and professional promise to spend one year at W&L to augment the major studies they are engaged with at their home institutions. The scholarship pays the full tuition, room, board and transportation costs for one academic year. Gunn Scholars may come from any academic discipline, but preference is given to students who will focus some of their academic work in the Williams School and are interested in a liberal arts education. Gunn Scholars can also explore unique on-campus housing options such as the Global Service House.

An accounting major, Santi jumped right into W&L’s academic opportunities, appreciating the chance to explore her options as she prepares for graduation. Santi gets her academic motivation from her parents, who are both teachers and have always encouraged her and her siblings to be high achievers. She credits her classes and professors at W&L with helping her streamline that motivation into a career path.

Santi is primarily interested in working in forensic accounting but wants to keep her options open, including possibly exploring investment banking. Her interest in forensic accounting was inspired by a course in business ethics she took during Fall Term 2023 with Megan Hess, associate professor of accounting. The course was centered around real-world cases, and Santi was reminded of Indonesia’s high corruption rate and how the corporate fraud committed by government institutions directly impacts the daily lives of Indonesia’s citizens. Despite — or even because of — these real connections Santi could make to the material, she called the course the “most fun learning experience for me so far,” and says it helped her realize that what she studies is important for the common good and that it is an altruistic act to keep learning about ethical business practices even after graduating college.

When she’s not in the classroom, you can find Santi spending quality time with her friends, either playing board games or watching movies on the third floor of Elrod Commons, or exploring new places on the back campus. Santi also enjoys attending the various cultural events hosted at W&L and appreciates the diversity she has encountered on campus. She is also grateful for the support and guidance she has received from Hunter Swanson, associate director of international education, who helped her transition to W&L and continues to inspire her with how diversity has become an essential part of his life.

As for Swanson, being able to advise and support W&L’s international students makes his job incredibly rewarding, and he describes Santi – who also works in the Center for International Education – as one of the most pleasant and respectful students he has ever met.

“Liz is truly a joy to be around,” Swanson said. “She is very mature, and I put a lot of trust in her. Liz is also making the most of her time at W&L both inside and outside the classroom. This Spring Term, she will be taking a geology course on the west coast, and throughout the year she has been active in building community and learning about the local area through the W&L Friendship Family Program.”

From the moment she stepped on campus for International Student Orientation, Santi was confident she made the right choice to spend a year at W&L. Meeting the other international students and beginning the adjustment to life at W&L became a strong foundation for her determination to experience a challenging academic environment and build community with the people around her.

“I met so many wonderful people from many different countries, some of whom have become the most important people in my life,” Santi said. “It reminded me of my exchange experience in 2019, and how making friends with people worldwide is always fun.”

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