Nick Kamatali: Friend to International Students


When an international student arrives on Ohio Northern University’s campus, Nick Kamatali is sure to become one of their first ONU friends.

Ever since his sophomore year, Nick has made a special effort to help ONU international students navigate college life in a different country.

The senior majoring in psychology and communication studies emigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was a toddler. Growing up, he traveled extensively with his family during the summers throughout Europe and Africa, experiencing what it’s like to be a newcomer in unfamiliar cultures.

Nick’s quest to befriend international students, therefore, stems from his deep well of empathy and his interest in the human traits that bind people from all cultural backgrounds. 

 “International students are kind of a reflection of myself,” he said. “I want them to prosper and grow. I really try to get to know them and their needs, so that I can help them succeed at ONU.”

From striking up conversations in the library, to answering questions about American culture, to hosting Friday evening dinners, Nick provides international students with invaluable guidance and friendship.

Photo of Nick on a park bench

“I value the smaller things,” he said. “Quite frankly, I don’t do anything out of the ordinary, I am just there for them. I’m in the spaces that they are in and I just talk to them.”

His ability to speak and understand several languages, and to forge friendships with international students, enabled Nick to obtain student employment with the Global Initiatives office on campus. Additionally, he works with ONU’s Communications and Marketing department producing social media videos; he’s vice president of both his fraternity, Phi Delta, and the World Student Organization; and he’s active in ONU club sports.

This past July, for his Global Communication course, Nick traveled across Japan with two ONU professors and 17 fellow students to explore anime, a popular media form that originated in Japan.

“Japan is a place that I’ve been very passionate about wanting to visit. I’ve also been watching anime since I was little. So, it was an unforgettable experience,” he said.

Nick’s interest in culture and human behavior is what inspired him to major in psychology and communication studies. “Both these majors are interconnected with so many other fields, and that’s what I love about them,” he said. “For example, the simple aspect of psychology that is analyzing human behavior can be applied in any of my classes.”

After graduation, he plans to attend graduate school in Austria to become a clinical psychologist. He also hopes to visit many of his international friends in their home countries, holding close the ONU friendships he has so purposefully forged.

To him, that’s what makes ONU special, he added. Being a small university in a small town, ONU is the perfect place to invest in relationships that will last a lifetime. “It’s a place where you can really spend time getting to know people,” he said.