Thomas C. Gjersvig
Hello, I have been the Director of International Student and Scholar Services at Minnesota State University, Mankato since 2001. I am active in campus internationalization and diversity priorities, as well as dealing with unique individual student cases. I am extremely proud that the International Student Endowment has awarded more than $200,000 in international student scholarships, and that we have both the Cultural Contribution Residence Tuition Scholarship and the International Student Endowment Scholarship. My experience as a U.S Peace Corps volunteer and work with migrant farm workers drew me to higher education, and later international education. I have also led a group of Community College students on a semester abroad to Costa Rica and received a Fulbright, Educational Administrator award to travel and learn about the South Korean educational system. “Every day I am inspired by students that are studying in the U.S. or abroad”.
Doni M. Casula
Hi! I’m Doni Casula. I am the Assistant Director of International Student & Scholar Services at the Kearney International Center. I have always been fascinated by diverse people and places, but it wasn’t until I studied abroad as an undergrad that I realized my fascination could become a career! Following an undergraduate study abroad experience in Mexico, I changed my major from Journalism to International Relations and went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Delaware. For the next several years I did all sorts of interesting work, from managing a balloon and children’s entertainment company, to coordinating a European exchange program, taking to the high seas as an Assistant Cruise director, and temping with one of the world’s largest chemical companies. My career in higher education began in 2003 when I was fortunate to be chosen for a newly-created position at Delaware Technical and Community College, Foreign Student and Admissions Coordinator. After gaining experience there, it was off to Alaska with me for 5 years of adventure as the International Student Advisor at University of Alaska Anchorage, while completing my Master of Science in Leadership in Higher Education with Capella University. Both in Delaware and Alaska I had the pleasure of leading student groups back to where I had studied abroad for Anthropology and Nursing courses, which has been one of the highlights of my career. I became interested in Minnesota State University, Mankato, and applied for my current position in 2012 when I realized the incredible care and resources that go into services offered to international students here – I wanted to be a part of that and I’m delighted they invited me to join the team! My primary responsibilities here are recruitment and retention, which means I get to do the fun stuff! I am working to grow our population of international students in Mankato and helping the students already here to have a successful experience. In my spare time I enjoy watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, biking, reading, and meeting new people. I look forward to knowing you! (I also have lots of stress-relieving toys and surprises in my office - visit to find out what they are!)
Hello! I’m Pat Lueck. I am the Office Manager for the Kearney International Center. I started my career by studying at a small private college located amid the bluffs of Southern Minnesota. I graduated with a degree in Political Science and Spanish with a minor in Latin American Studies. I spent my junior year studying in Mexico City and traveling all around the country soaking up the ambiance. It was really difficult to come back to cold Minnesota after a year in the sun! I decided that I would love to have a career centered on travel. I graduated and promptly accepted a position in IT with no connection whatsoever to travel! I’ve spent most of my working career in IT! I’ve been part of manufacturing IT, Banking IT and IT in an Online Travel environment. I came to Minnesota State University with a totally different career focus – Security! After spending five years in Security I have moved to the International Center. It’s a terrific place to work. Unlike Security where you are only contacted if someone has a problem- everyone who comes to us is happy! They are happy to be here studying or are happy to be embarking on a trip to study abroad! I enjoy working with my colleagues and all of our students and I love being immersed in a diverse culture once again. My primary function is to hold the office together and try to keep things running smoothly. I’m married, I have two sons who are also married and I have a beautiful granddaughter. I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling and reading. I’m an old movie buff and enjoy using quotes from some of the classics!
Immigration and Programs Coordinator
Hello, I am Ishrat Kamal-Ahmed and serve as the immigration and program coordinator for the International Center. I was born in Chittagong, Bangladesh and moved to the United States in 1994. Now I have two places that I can call home! My bachelor degree in Biology: Toxicology and graduate degree in Community Health were earned from the Minnesota State University, Mankato. Currently I am in a pre-doctoral Public Health program at the University of Minnesota. My function in the office is to oversee immigration compliance. I also serve as a host advisor for students attending the university under the scholarship provided by the U.S. Department of State. Besides that, I am involved in student advising and counseling. I am a mother of two children and will soon have my third child. Books, humor, action movies, food, hard rock music and sleep are somethings I love in life. I strongly value education and knowledge and believe that the United States is one of the best places for a life-long learner to pursue his or her dreams, especially for women who very frequently do not receive opportunities and supports to reach their potentials.
International Recruitment/Retention Specialist
Mabuhay! I’m Cita! I was born and raised in the Mansaka tribe of the Philippines. I moved to the United States (Des Moines, Iowa) in 1980 and proceeded to raise a family who are now three grown children, two of which are MSU, Mankato Alums, while the other went to school in Seattle. I began my career as a K-12 Foodservice Director and a home-based caterer in 1984 in Comfrey, Minnesota followed by the beginning of my academic career at MSU, Mankato in 1999. I received my bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition Family Consumer Science from MSU in 1999 then pursued a Master’s in Counseling Student Personnel also from MSU, which I completed in 2006. I began working as a Recruitment and Retention Specialist in the Kearney International Center in 2007. I enjoy what I do here, which includes coordinating the Friendship Family and Bike Share Programs as well as arranging activities and field trips like canoeing, ice-fishing, and community events. I am passionate about helping international students and serve as Advisor to student groups Mavlankans, NesTcom, Fil-Am Student Association and WLO. When I’m not working I enjoy travelling (have visited 20 countries) and community service, including having served as one of the Board of Directors for the Committee Against Domestic Abuse from 1996-2006.
Elizabeth (Beth) Lohrenz
Interim Recruitment & Retention Specialist
Hello and welcome! I am the Interim Recruitment & Retention Specialist in the Kearney International Center. I recently graduated from Minnesota State Mankato with a B.A. in Geography and International Relations. As an undergraduate student, I studied abroad in Russia during summer 2012 with a Gilman International Scholarship, and interned at the American Consulate General in Frankfurt, Germany through the U.S. Department of State Student Internship Program the following summer. I enjoy working with the MSU international student population and promoting intercultural exchange to university students. I look forward to answering your prospective student questions and helping you transition into the MSU & Mankato community!
Hello! My name is Taylor Tolchin and I am one of the Graduate Assistants for the Kearney International Center. I am originally from Chicago and graduated from DePaul University with a Bachelors of Arts in English/Creative Writing and a minor in Art History. Before coming to Minnesota State University to pursue my Masters of Fine Arts in poetry, I earned my TESOL/TESL certification and worked with special education students at a junior high school. My goal is to eventually earn my PhD in writing and publish my own work while teaching at a university. My interests outside of work and school include my super awesome dog, Huck, art, cooking, and every once in a while, really terrible reality TV shows.
Andrew J. Orth
Hello, I am one of three graduate assistants working in the International Student and Scholar Services at the Kearney International Center. I went to Minnesota State, Mankato for five years prior to this position and received my degree in Sport Management with a minor in Economics. I am currently in the Sport Management Master’s program. I have been involved with two internships that pertain to my major, with one coming here at Minnesota State University. I worked with the athletic department for an entire school year and was involved with their marketing and promotions for all sporting events. That experience really opened up my eyes to the diversity that is intertwined within sports, and made me want to experience more in my everyday life. That fascination steered me to this position in the Kearney International Office, where I am grateful to be a part of such a wonderful staff. My primary responsibilities here in the office involve working with the Sponsored Students and Cultural Contribution Hours. I am here to answer any questions I can, and look forward to getting to know you!
Rujeko O. Machinga
Makadini!!! My name is Rujeko Olga Machinga; born and raised in Zimbabwe. I currently serve as one of the Graduate Assistants in the Kearney International Center. Prior to this position, I was the Assistant to the ISSS Assistant Director in the International Center office. My ultimate goal in life is to be a Community Pharmacist so that I can be a better resource and facilitator for the growth of health education in third world countries. I transferred from Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, California and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Minnesota State University, Mankato. I am currently doing Masters of Science: Community Health Education as well as a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Public Health Education. Ever since I started working in the International Office, my passion for international students has increased. Each day I look forward to coming to the office and interact with people from all over the world because it has helped me view so many different cultures and values with an open mind and better understanding. In my spare time, I love to SLEEP, play tennis and soccer, cook, watch reality TV shows and simply spend the most time I can with my loved ones.