Cougar Pride Welcomes Foreign Students

    Sept. 6, 2011

    HOUSTON - It was an exciting week in the Athletic Department at the University of Houston. Staff, coaches and student-athletes were preparing for the 2011 football season opener against UCLA and five foreign exchange students could not have picked a better time to join the University of Houston's athletic fundraising arm, Cougar Pride. Cougar Pride welcomed students from Tokyo into our city, school, and community and eagerly anticipated the chance to show them what Houston is all about.

    What originally started last summer as an internship and study-abroad-like program in the United States for Japanese students has now reached the doorstep of the University of Houston. Founded in collaboration with Dave Anderson of JPFI, Fukushima University, and Toyo Gakuen University, the program was designed with a foundation to "give Japanese university students practical opportunities to practice their language skills and give them a chance to observe the real working world," says Sarah Birchley of Toyo Gakuen University. The program had its first trial last summer with the students working with the Bill White for Texas gubernatorial campaign. Based on the success of their inaugural run, Dave Anderson spoke with UH's assistant track coach Floyd Heard regarding athletic department possibilities.

    "Coach Heard was actually our connection that opened the door for Houston Athletics," Cougar Pride Special Events Coordinator Celena Flores said. "He took them on a tour around campus and approached us to see if we would be able to help the students and give them an internship."

    During the student's three-week stay in Houston, one female student, Eri (pronounces Elle), will be working in the office, and the other four will help work the athletic events. "Eri has been putting together bios for our Corbin J. Robertson Society, compiling all the information for the different student-athletes that will be sent out to those donors. She has also been working on our Twitter and Facebook pages, getting messages out to our supporters about tickets and parking for future home contests."



    "We appreciate Dave and Coach Heard for allowing Cougar Pride the opportunity to work with such an outstanding program," Associate Athletics Director for Development Jeramiah Dickey said. "We are an international community and campus and this gives us an opportunity to expand our athletic reach. With the win against UCLA, we were excited their first American football experience was a memorable one."

    In addition to helping with the technological side of Cougar Pride, on game day, all the students assisted in setting up Cougar Pride Tailgate Village, suites and the Cougar Pride Coaches Club. Cougar Pride is doing its best to help these students adjust to Houston and are looking forward to providing additional opportunities in the future.

    For those interested in following the progress of the students' stay in Houston, you can follow them at or on twitter @businessinterns.

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