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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Staff & Hours

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Dr. Nancy O’Brien, Director

Dr. Nancy O’Brien

Phone Number:507-389-6724

Nancy O’Brien has built a career as an intercultural and international education professional. She has lived and worked abroad in Japan, Germany, England, Egypt, Serbia, New Zealand, Australia, and Tanzania; and domestically in Minnesota, Vermont, Arizona, Oregon, and most recently, in Alabama. She has developed and led study abroad programs, and has worked in director and faculty roles in education abroad administration. Nancy earned her Ph.D. in Comparative and International Development Education from the University of Minnesota. Her graduate degree is in International and Intercultural Management (SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont) and her undergraduate degree is in German (St. Cloud State University, Minnesota). She is a co-author for the LGBT Cultural Detective® package and a contributing author in the SAGE Encyclopedia of Intercultural Competence. Nancy has taught courses in cultural literacy and intercultural communication at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota and at The University of Alabama-Honors College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She is most interested in bridging cultures and her hobbies include travelling, hiking, cross-country skiing, cooking, and writing.



Anna Ochs, Education Abroad and Away Advisor

Anna Ochs

Phone Number:507-389-1341

Hello, I am Anna Ochs, the Education Abroad and Away Advisor. I am a born and raised Minnesotan who has a passion for travel and learning. While completing my undergraduate degree across the border at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota I had an opportunity to study abroad in Panama City, Panama. After this amazing opportunity I became more involved in my campus’ International Program Office. Upon graduation, I taught English in China for a year and then returned to the US where I continued working with EL students. Currently I am working on my MA in TESL at MNSU Mankato. I am an advocate for studying and traveling outside of one’s comfort zone and have experienced how it helps foster a wider understanding of culture and diversity and a deeper comprehension of one’s strengths and passions. I am excited to help students on their journey of discovery and learning.



Jill Fischer, Education Abroad and Away Advisor


Phone Number:507-389-1341

Jill Fischer has over 20 years of professional experience in higher education study abroad in advising, program development and management, and faculty led, third party providers, and exchange program models. She’s worked in the education abroad departments of the University of Minnesota, Northwestern College (IA), Gustavus Adolphus College, and now here at Minnesota State University-Mankato. Jill has a MS in experiential education/educational leadership department from MNSU-Mankato, and a BA in theatre and psychology, with a Spanish language minor. She has studied Spanish for many years both in the U.S. and abroad in Mexico and Costa Rica, and someday she would love to be fluent! She’s also traveled abroad for work and pleasure to Argentina, Austria, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Spain, and Turkey. Jill is a believer in the transformative nature of study away and enjoys working with students to help them realize their study away goals and plans. Jill also has a particular interest in the re-entry process, and has taught re-entry classes and created a website module to help students prepare for and process their learning and experiences from abroad.



Rachel Witt, Education Abroad and Away Coordinator


Phone Number:507-389-1341

Rachel Witt has earned her graduate degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration (Beijing Normal University) in China, where she served as the Minister of Career Development, as an admissions representative, advised Chinese university students, founded/directed the first international student mentor program and taught ESL to children and adults. She also spent time at New York University-Shanghai during her internship as a student affairs associate. While studying in China she traveled to Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Her undergraduate degrees include Family and Consumer Sciences, along with Human Development and Family Studies (Colorado State University). While at CSU, she spent time at INTO CSU as an English Partner and as a cultural mentor, supporting international students integrate into American universities. She is passionate about traveling, education, cooking, the outdoors, and family/friends.



Swathi Vepachedu, Education Abroad Advisor


Phone Number:507-389-6669

Hello, I am Swathi Vepachedu, the Graduate Assistant for The Center for Education Abroad and Away at MSU, Mankato. I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and take a very keen interest in cultural competence in students and employees. Having lived for no more than 3 years in one city, I love travelling, and reading about the religious and mythological significance of a place. Also, as an international student, I believe that studying and travelling abroad helps students develop a higher degree of emotional intelligence and allows them to foster an environment for diversity and inclusion. I am thrilled to be able to help students experience learning abroad and explore a wide range of opportunities.



Dunia, Peer Advisor

Photo of Dunia

Phone Number:507-389-1341

I’m Dunia Tesfaye, I major in Sociology and minor in International Relations here at Minnesota State University. I’ve been working with the Center of Education Abroad and Away since the Fall of 2016, and in my student worker position as a Peer Advisor I’ve had an amazing opportunity to study abroad such as my trip to South Korea in the summer of 2016, and my current pursuit to study in Amman, Jordan in the summer 2019 term. I have also traveled to Ethiopia, Yemen, Canada, Dubai, and many U.S. states, and hope to travel to many more places in the upcoming future. As my name means “the world” or earth in Arabic, I’m really trying to commit to the role, and I hope to get more students interested in learning more about “me” as well.



Linda Zheng, Peer Advisor

Photo of Linda

Phone Number:507-389-1341

Hi, I’m Linda. I am a Peer Advisor at the Center for Education Abroad and Away at MSU, Mankato. I am a student at MSU majoring in Psychology and Spanish. I have lived in Minnesota for 6 years, but am originally from Brooklyn, New York. I have also lived in China, Iowa, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. I would love to travel more in the future to experience and learn about other cultures. I enjoy and am excited about helping students who want to study abroad, explore opportunities, and immerse themselves in new cultures!


Office Location:

Morris Hall 002

Hours Of Operations:

Monday - Friday: 8:00am - 4:30pm
(Summer Hours: 7:30am - 4:00pm)