Sandy Kyrish.jpgDr.  Sandy Kyrish is very excited about her new role as the director of the Intensive English Language Program.   


Dr. Kyrish has been with Temple University for 15 years.  In fact, she received her PhD in mass media and communications at the School of Communications and Theater.  Her love for Temple is shown through her dedicated service to students and faculty over the years. 


Read the following conversation to learn more about Dr. Kyrish and her plans for IELP.



Q: What does your role as Director entail on a daily basis?


As director, I will manage the overall operation of IELP.   On a daily basis, this includes maintaining the program’s budget, coordinating instruction and curriculum, working with the instructors to ensure they are trained and evaluated properly, and recruiting new students.  Overall, I like to think of my role as a collective team effort. 


Q: How has your background prepared you for this position?


I taught a course called business communications at Temple.  This course was about writing and speaking professionally. I had several IELP students in my classes and taught students from over 20 countries.  I would say at least one third of my students learned English as a second language. The real advantage of teaching this course was that I was able to see the variety of writing and speaking capabilities of our internationals students. Given my experience, I feel qualified to be able to tell how well students will do if they matriculate into Temple University.


Q: Where did your interest spark from when deciding to apply as Director of IELP?


My husband was originally not an American citizen.  He grew up in South Africa and came to the United States as a teenager. His father was a Rhodesian diplomat and my husband’s family continues to live in South Africa and Australia. On my side, I am a Texas native and come from a Polish background. My great-great-great uncle founded the first Polish colony in the United States.  Since all of my family is in Texas and my husband’s family is overseas, I am able to relate to international students who make Temple and Philadelphia their home away from home.


Q: What foreign languages have you studied?


I speak some Spanish. I took Spanish all the way until I reached high school.  I therefore appreciate what it is like to learn a foreign language. One thing I promised myself is that I would improve my Spanish while in this position. While Spanish is the language that I am most familiar with, I do make it a priority to learn catch phrases in different languages like “I don’t understand,” or introductory phrases like “good morning.”  My goal is to continue to learn different words in various languages as I find it’s a nice ice-breaker or conversation starter when I first meet new international students.


Q: What would you like to accomplish during your tenure as Director?


I have two program goals.  One is to increase the number of IELP students who go on to matriculate at Temple or those who go to community college and then come back to Temple.


The second goal is to increase the number of students who are able to take IELP and Temple courses concurrently for credit.  Currently there is a program called IELP Excel which is specifically designed for international students who are preparing for university admission in the United States.  Students in the program are able to simultaneously enroll in English language courses, including TOEFL preparation, AND a credit-bearing university course in the academic program they want to pursue.


There are two advisors within IELP dedicated to helping current IELP students understand how to matriculate into Temple University.  The IELP advisors meet individually with the student, help them develop a plan, answer application questions and provide academic advice.


Another great new initiative IELP will be instituting is the allocation of scholarship support to students in good academic standing who are admitted into Temple for undergraduate study.


Q: In your opinion, what makes a successful IELP program?


I am dedicated to customer service and want to ensure that those who walk through this office are serviced in the best way possible. I feel a strong need to ensure that students are being taken care of during their time at Temple.  Our office will do everything it can to ensure success for our IELP students.  IELP is successful when the students succeed. 


Already, upon hearing the suggestions of my colleagues and looking out for the best interest of the international student, we’ve decided to shift visa processing for IELP students over to International Student and Scholar Services. 


Q: How do IELP students contribute to Temple’s mission of globalization?


IELP students are huge contributors to Temple’s overall diversity.  As I mentioned previously in our discussion about program goals, I would like to increase the IELP student presence in Temple’s overall student body.  I’ve had many students who’ve shared positive sentiments about being immersed in a diverse classroom.  When you bring the world into the classroom, you learn so many different things from your peers and their experiences.  In my experience, that’s what was so fulfilling about teaching.



Article written by Kierra Bussey, student writer for International Affairs