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King University News :: Virgin Island Students Find Second Home at King University

BRISTOL, Tenn., Dec. 1, 2014 – Through the years, global citizenship has been a part of the King University community. From across the United States and the globe, students come together and develop a broadened awareness and appreciation of diverse cultures.

In 2014, a total of 81 students from six continents and 37 countries made the decision to travel to the U.S. and attend King. Each student’s decision to choose King is different, whether for academics, athletics or the personalized attention for which King is known. Within those countries, three new students in particular have similar roots – Azahlia Benjamin (’18), Tequania Lake (’18), and Jerome Nathaniel (’18). All hail from the U.S. Territory of the Virgin Islands, with Benjamin and Lake having resided in the Virgin Islands most of their lives, while Nathaniel, having lived there his entire life.

Reaching out to the students from the various territories was an idea sparked by Director of Transfer and International Recruitment, Elvin Browne, who himself is originally from the Virgin Islands.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for high school students from U.S. territories like the Virgin Islands to attend college outside of the Caribbean,” Browne said. “As a child, I always dreamed about traveling to the United States for a quality education. Over the past three years of recruiting there, I feel we’ve tapped into an excellent location. Other students who share a similar dream can now look to King, and the response has been positive.  As a native from the US Virgin Islands, I’m doing everything I can to give back to my community and help other prospective students to further their educational dream.”

Coming to the United States was a big adjustment for the new students, who grew up in the Virgin Islands. When Lake was asked what made her want to come small town Bristol, Tenn., verses staying in the Virgin Islands, she summed it up perfectly.

“King has all the qualities I was looking for in a school,” said Lake. “Some of which are small class sizes, friendly and understanding professors, humble and peaceful environment, cost, and Christ affiliated.”

Nathaniel plans to pursue a career in Sports Management, Benjamin wants to get a degree in Nursing, and Lake is majoring in Mathematics with a minor in Physics.

“I admire the relationships that teachers develop with their students,” she added. “I love all my teachers and I know for sure that they care about me too. Outside of the classroom we have an awesome relationship, and they are willing to assist in any aspect of my life necessary.”

When asked about if he would recommend King to others in the Virgin Islands, Benjamin said, “I would recommend King because it is inviting. It focuses on Christian education and it allows one to be themselves, to be free, and show the world what they can do.”

Nathaniel describes King’s opportunities and size by saying, “The school is small, but they have everything you could want. King is a great university, and you get to do activities, go places, and see things you don’t have the opportunity to do back home. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports, so for students that loves to play sports and wants a shot to enhance their skills, King University is a good university for that dream and goal to come true. King University provides students will many opportunities to expand their knowledge and become a successful person. Being far from home with no one to depend on has shaped me into a responsible person. I have made many great friends and enjoyed many great experiences since coming to King.”

The three new student are following in the footsteps of four students who made King their home last year– Rochelle Frederick (’17), Esmeralda Jimenez-Penalo (’17), TJ Thompson (’17), and Ajani George (’16). All hail from the U.S. Territory of the Virgin Islands, with Fredrick, Thompson, and George residing in the Virgin Islands their entire lives, while Jimenez-Penalo, who originally hails from the Dominican Republic, has lived in St. Thomas for the past nine years.

“My favorite thing about King has to be its campus. I love the hills and all the trees and the fact that there’s this amazing view of the surrounding mountains. The climate is great too, as it is the closest I’ve ever come to experiencing a true change in seasons,” Frederick said. “After just a few days [of being on campus] I found myself loving the school’s atmosphere.”

Frederick and Thompson plan to pursue careers in Political Science; Jimenez-Penalo is majoring in Forensic Science; George is considering Athletic Training or Sports Management.

“The teachers and the other staff care a lot about the students; they assist me in everything I need,” said Jimenez-Penalo. She added, “I also like the display of the campus. It is beautiful. It is absolutely nice.” 

When asked about what it meant to have such a diverse range of students on campus, George’s answer was short and sweet.

“It’s a good thing to have diversity and to have the opportunity to get to know people on campus. Coming to King University, and Bristol has been a great thing, and for that, I know I’ve been forever changed.”

To learn more about international recruitment, contact Director of Undergraduate Recruitment and Admissions Elvin Browne at 800.362.0014 or or visit


 King University is a Presbyterian, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities.Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing.A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports.  For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability.King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.