Director (Coming Soon)
With the recent retirement of Tom Gjersvig, our office is in the process of hiring a new ISSS Director. Our acting director is Dr. Steve Stoynoff, Dean of Global Education.
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 Student & Scholar Advisor
Hello, everyone. I’m David. Let me tell you a little bit about my “selfie.” I’m the international student and scholar advisor for International Student & Scholar Services in the Kearney International Center. I advise F-1 and J-1 students on how to maintain their visa and immigration status while at MSU. On top of that, I’m a pretty good listener, so if you find yourself struggling or having a question about your cultural adjustment or life in Mankato, I’m happy to listen and talk with you about your situation. While I am relatively new to Mankato and Minnesota, I have been working with international students for about 5 years. People here have expressed concern about why I would move to Minnesota with their cold winters, but I grew up next door in Wisconsin, so I’m very familiar with winter and enjoy living in states where I can experience all four seasons (even if winter feels like the longest). Some of my passions include talking politics, traveling, and advocating for LGBT and social justice issues. I like to get out and explore, so you’ll likely see me in coffee shops, on the bike trails or shopping at the farmer’s market. Please feel free to say hello and introduce yourself! I’m looking forward to meeting many of you through the different events and activities on campus. Or, feel free to stop by the office and say hello; I have walk-in hours every day.
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!
Salam, my name is Tahir Farooqi. I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, but originally I am from Pakistan. I've been here in the United States for over ten years. I did my Bachelors in Manufacturing Engineering Technology from MSU, my Masters in Engineering Management from St. Cloud State, and am currently doing my Masters in Business Administration at MSU. I have previously been President and Board Member for multiple student organizations on campus. My ultimate goald would be to have my own engineering firm. I work closely with ISA to make sure all events happen is a timely manner and accordingly.
I love to help people and working at the International Office has helped me meet people from all cultures, understand them and appreciate people from all walks of life. In my spare time I love to sing, video record, video editing, writing novels and comics, video games and watch movies.
Sofia Espana Perez
Hello, my name is Sofia Espana. I was born and raised in Mexico and I recently graduated from East Tennessee State University with a B.A. in Psychology. I am a graduate assistant in International Student and Scholar Services and I am currently studying a Master's program in Sports and Exercise Psychology. I played college tennis throughout my four years of undergraduate school and I just spent one year coaching tennis in Houston, Texas. Ever since I came to the United Staes, I realized the importance of meeting new people from different parts of the world and learning about their cultures and backgrounds. I love to help new students adapt to this new culture and make the most out of this experience. I look forward to meeting and working with you!