Photo by the Corvallis Gazette Times

When you first meet Daniel Reimao, you immediately feel at ease.

With a wide, genuine smile, Reimao, 22, has a knack for making any person feel welcome, which is notable because he’s often welcoming people to a place he hasn’t been for very long.

A native of Santos, Brazil, Reimao has only been in the United States for five years, and at Oregon State University for less than four. Despite that, he will tell you, he has always felt that OSU was a comfortable home away from home.

When listening to his story, it becomes clear that Reimao’s willingness to make decisions that push him outside his comfort zone have been key to his success at Oregon State University.

Destined for Corvallis

Reimao was an accomplished water polo player in Brazil and, after visiting southern California for a water polo tournament, decided he would like to play and go to school in the United States. He began his college career at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, Calif., determined to major in business and play on one of the top community college water polo teams in the country.

“One week into the season, I broke my foot and I couldn’t play,” Reimao said. “It changed my life. Once I couldn’t play, I also realized I didn’t like the business classes I was taking or where I was taking them.”

Encouraged by Angelica Costa, a professor at Portland Community College who was once his English teacher back in Brazil, Reimao traveled to Oregon and toured OSU with his former teacher, turned mentor.

“Angelica told me about Oregon State and that it had a great engineering school,” Reimao recounted, noting his interest in engineering. “So, I traveled here, toured the College of Engineering and the rest of campus. I saw a lot of people, activities and events happening everywhere and it felt like the right place for me. So, I prepared my paperwork and applied to OSU.”

He was admitted for winter 2013 and as an Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering major.

Connecting for Success

Upon his move to Corvallis, Reimao wasted no time in connecting with people and resources to make his Oregon State experience the best it could be. He rattled off a list of opportunities and individuals that he credits with helping him to adjust and fit in: The Oregon State men’s club water polo team. His advisor in the College of Engineering. Living in Callahan Hall and meeting fellow engineering majors and lovers of the FIFA soccer video game. Advisors in the Office of International Services. Involvement in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program.

Reimao also said the friendly culture of Oregon State University made connecting easier.

“People in Oregon are very friendly and open to new relationships and meeting people,” he said. “They want you to feel welcome and they will help you. What you see from outside is different from how it is here. There is a thought, or a mentality, that international people aren’t welcome in the U.S., but this a huge misperception.”

Chinweike Eseonu, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, was one of those welcoming, helpful people for Reimao.

Eseonu included Reimao on his research team when he was just a sophomore. Despite being side-by-side with mostly graduate students, Reimao made the most of the opportunity and his contributions were recognized.

“Daniel was exceptional,” Eseonu said. “My team is mostly international students, and I was an international student myself, at one time. That dynamic works quite well because we’re accustomed to having people from different cultures and different backgrounds contributing to the work.”

The experience on Eseonu’s team was impetus for Daniel’s involvement in the Multiple Engineering Co-op Program, or MECOP. These six-month internship opportunities at Oregon businesses fueled Reimao’s willingness to push the boundaries of his comfort zone and learn how to be successful in his field, whether in the U.S., back home in Brazil, or abroad.

Reimao has decided to pursue a master’s degree in engineering, which he will begin in fall 2017, and said he will look for the best job in his field after graduation.

“OSU opened the doors of the world for me,” Reimao said. “If I have to move to New Zealand or Canada, I wouldn’t have a problem doing it. Because I studied at OSU, I have a global edge.”

Sharing Culture, Building Bridges

Developing a global perspective for himself, and helping develop that in others, is another passion of Reimao’s. He currently works as the student assistant for the International Cultural Service Program, or ICSP.

Reimao heard about the program when he was volunteering with the Corvallis Multicultural Literacy Center, helping an Iraqi student improve his English.

The program offers a scholarship to international students in exchange for cultural service to the surrounding communities with the goal of increasing cultural awareness and understanding on campus and in the surrounding community. Scholars can be requested by professors, teachers, churches and other groups to give presentations. Not only does Reimao give presentations, he is also in charge of matching other presenters to requests. 

“I like ICSP and enjoy giving presentations about my culture and my home country,” Reimao said. “The program allows me to practice my presentation skills and now I’m not afraid of public speaking.”

Nan Xie, coordinator of ICSP in the Division of International Programs, describes Reimao as a standout international student always willing to participate and contribute.

“Daniel is very outgoing. I can think of several times, before he was actually involved with our program, where his willingness to speak up and go outside of his comfort zone made an impression,” Xie said. “His positive attitude gives him an advantage and puts him, and any student, particularly an international student, in a better position.”

In the end, Reimao recognizes that a combination of his willingness to take risks, along with the opportunities he’s been given and those who have helped him along the way, have led to his success.

“The U.S. has given me countless opportunities and I’m very grateful.”