Former exchange student finds home in WKU

Senior Diego Leal Ambriz is a foreign exchange student from Monterrey, Mexico, who is studying International Business. Ambriz was only supposed to be at WKU for two semesters, but he loved WKU so much that he transferred here.

Alexis Custard

From the moment Diego Leal Ambriz stepped on WKU’s campus, he knew that it would be his new home.

“Ever since I was a little boy, I always wanted to study in the United States,” said 21-year-old Ambriz, a senior from Monterrey, Mexico.

Leal Ambriz is an International Business major and has been at WKU since fall 2009.

His education at WKU began as a foreign exchange student from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León.

After attending the university for three years, he was granted a full scholarship for one semester of study in Canada or two universities in the U.S., he said. He chose WKU.

“WKU’s desire of being a ‘university of international reach’ with students of different countries made me feel that my stay would be very beneficial and gratifying, and it was,” Leal Ambriz said.

He said that after his first semester, he loved WKU so much that he didn’t want to leave.

“I asked to stay for another semester, and both universities allowed me to,” said Leal Ambriz.

He sought help from university officials to stay at WKU.

President Gary Ransdell said Leal Ambriz is a very outgoing and friendly young man who he has enjoyed getting to know.

Leal Ambriz was then a permanent resident of the U.S., because his father lives in Texas, he said.

He did everything he could to transfer to WKU with the help of Dan Myers, an associate professor of economics and a college international officer.

“When I first met him in Monterrey, he came bearing gifts of local delicacies,” Myers said of Leal Ambriz. “I found him to be energetic, full of personality and easy to get to know.”

Myers handled Leal Ambriz’s paperwork and helped him check into a dorm. He said that when Leal Ambriz decided to stay, they worked together to make sure everything was in order.

After all the paperwork, Leal Ambriz was allowed to complete his college career at WKU.

During his time at WKU, Leal Ambriz has been involved in many campus organizations and programs, including Western Leaders, LeaderShape and the Dynamic Leadership Institute.

He is currently an SGA senator and a Gordon Ford College of Business ambassador and has just been elected president of the new fraternity on campus, Alpha Tau Omega.

Myers said Leal Ambriz has made the Dean’s List each semester he has been at Western.

“Diego is a character and also has high character,” he said.

For Leal Ambriz, it wasn’t difficult adjusting to life at WKU.

He said he wonders if he’s a bad kid because he doesn’t get homesick and only gets to see his family twice a year.

“My parents know that I’m safe here and doing my best,” he said.

Leal Ambriz said he has a passion for meeting new people.

He said he sees strangers as new friends that he hasn’t met yet.

“I came here knowing only three people,” Leal Ambriz said. “Now, a year later, I have more than 900 friends, according to Facebook.”

After he graduates from WKU, he said he wants to work for a multinational enterprise for two years and then get a Master of Business Administration at an Ivy League school.

“I know it’s an ambitious goal, but I know I have what it takes,” Leal Ambriz said.

“He sought my help last year when he was due to return to Mexico,” Ransdell said. “I am sure there have been other international students that we have helped, but not too many have come to me specifically for help.”

Ransdell directed him to the right people.

When spring 2010 came, Leal Ambriz had to choose between his university in Mexico and WKU, he said.