Sydney Hencil

International Spotlights: Sydney Hencil

When it came time to decide which university to attend, Brenau junior Sydney Hencil knew she wanted to go somewhere outside her home country of Zimbabwe.

When Hencil was younger, she was a member of the Rotary Youth Exchange program and spent time studying in Germany. Her parents wanted her to do the same after high school, but Hencil had other plans in mind.

“I wanted to go on and try new things,” she says. At the suggestion of Youth Exchange officials, Hencil applied to the Georgia Rotary Student Program. Other students who had participated in the initiative — which covers tuition, room and board for one year of study abroad — told Hencil about their positive experiences, so she figured it would be a good experience to try living in Georgia.

“I applied without my parents knowing,” says Hencil, who was taking a gap year at the time. “I only told them when I needed certain information for the application process. By then it was too late to back out, and I was already applying. I wasn’t expecting to get in because they choose a small number of students every year, but I was accepted.”

Hencil was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Hall County, Rotary Club of Gainesville and Rotary Club of White County as part of the Georgia Rotary Student Program, which led her to Brenau.

“I loved it so much at Brenau,” she says. “I said that I didn’t know if I could go anywhere else. I made an effort, and I was lucky enough to be awarded a dance and academic scholarship, so I was able to stay at Brenau.”

When choosing her major, Hencil decided on communications with a concentration in digital technologies. Hencil says the decision was influenced by her love for writing and editing, which she now does in her free time at Brenau. In addition to blogging about her experiences as an international student, Hencil records and edits YouTube videos of her dancing and serves as editor of The Alchemist, Brenau’s student newspaper. She is also president of the Brenau International Club, an International Ambassador and a member of the Black Student Association and Brenau’s competitive dance and spirit cheerleading teams.

While Hencil loves everything about Brenau, the people are number one.

“I’ve had so many people say to me, ‘If you need anything, just call me,’” she says. “My professors have helped me so much during this time. It’s just really nice to see that helpful community around you because it makes being away from home so much easier.”

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