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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato

Staff

Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/international/staff.html

Thomas C. Gjersvig

Thomas C. Gjersvig

Director

Email: thomas.gjersvig@mnsu.edu

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

Assistant Director

Email: donna.casula@mnsu.edu 

 Hi! I’m Doni Casula. I’m one of two Assistant Directors here in International Student & Scholar Services at the Kearney International Center, along with Julie Rabaey. 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 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!

 

Pat Lueck

Office Manager

Email: patsy.lueck@mnsu.edu

 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!

 

Ishrat Kamal-Ahmed

Ishrat Kamal-Ahmed

Immigration and Programs Coordinator

Email: ishrat.kamal-ahmed@mnsu.edu

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.

 

Laura Peterson

International Recruitment/Retention Specialist

Email: laura.peterson-3@mnsu.edu

Ciao! My name is Laura Peterson. I am an International Recruitment and Retention Specialist in the Kearney International Center.  I am originally from Denver, Colorado but at 18 years old,  I ventured overseas to Switzerland to get a Bachelor’s in International Relations. Shortly after graduating, I found a home in Malawi, sub-Saharan Africa, where I worked for a small NGO promoting sustainable agriculture and guiding academic based tours in the bush. Fascinated by the value of global educational experience, in 2007,  I decided to attend Minnesota State University, to gain a Master’s Degree in Experiential Education focusing on International Education and working as a Graduate Assistant in the Kearney International Center. After getting my Master’s degree in 2008, I worked as the Assistant Director of Admissions for Franklin College Switzerland, recruiting students from around the United States to take the same educational adventure overseas to Switzerland that I took.  I was excited to finally have the opportunity to return  to the Kearney International Center in 2012 and work with International Students in helping them find a home at this great university. Minnesota State has a great team of passionate staff that are here to serve the growing international student population.  Having been an international student myself,  I have a strong passion for connecting with students and assisting with their introduction and adaptation to American culture and education. There is so much to learn through your experience here! When I am not working, I am busy feeding pigs, chickens and cows on the small organic farm that my husband and I own not far from Mankato.

 

 

 

 

 

Cita Maignes

Cita Maignes

International Recruitment/Retention Specialist

Email: cita.maignes@mnsu.edu

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.

 

Graduate Assistants

 

Meredith Bilse

Meredith T. Bilse

Graduate Assistant

meredith.bilse@mnsu.edu

Hi, I’m Meredith. I am a student in the Counseling and Student Personnel Department where I am getting my master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. My thesis is on how parental level factors can influence a child’s recovery from trauma. In the future I would love to work with children and families in the wake of trauma or who are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Prior to coming to Minnesota State University- Mankato I attended the University of South Dakota, where I studied Spanish and Psychology with a specialization in disaster relief. Here at the Kearney International Center I am a Graduate Assistant and I work with our sponsored students, entertainment for our cultural event nights, Friendship Family, and cultural contribution hours. When I am not at work I love traveling and spending time outdoors with my friends and family.

 

Ignacio Belmonte

Ignacio E. Belmonte

Graduate Assistant

ignacio.belmonte@mnsu.edu

Hola! I’m Ignacio Belmonte, an international student from Bolivia and a Graduate Assistant in the Kearney International Center. Before coming to MSU I earned my undergraduate degree at Gustavus Adolphus College in International Management. During my time there, I was a Student Leader in the Gustavus Dinning Service, working in many banquets, special events, regular shifts and anything that was related to food service. I was also a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, where I held many positions and gained valuable leadership experience. After graduation I worked at Navitor Inc. as a Database Analyst for a year before deciding to start my MBA at MSU. I enjoy working in the International Center, and in my free time I enjoy working out and trying new crock pot recipes. If you ever have a question about your Cultural Contribution Scholarship, taxes, event planning with food or contribution hours; I am the right person to talk too!                                 

  Sean Burns

  Graduate Assistant  

  sean.burns@mnsu.edu

Hi! My name is Sean Burns and I am a graduate student in the Counseling and Student Personnel   department studying for a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. My undergraduate major at the   University of Chicago was in Biology, and I worked in several laboratories before deciding that I needed to make a career change. My main duty at the Kearney International Center is the organizing of the annual International Festival, but I will also be working with international students on their cultural contribution hours and any other issues that may arise for them. Please contact me if you have any questions about or if you want to participate in the International Festival. We welcome your input and participation.