Dr. Nancy O’Brien, Director
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.
Swathi Vepachedu, Education Abroad Assistant
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
Dunia is a freshman student at Mankato, majoring in International Relations. She is from Ethiopia and Yemen originally, but has lived in the Twin Cities for 8+ years now. This summer, she plans to study abroad with the Mankato Exchange in South Korea, but hopes to travel the entirety of the world someday. Dunia is happy to be working as a Peer advisor for the study abroad office, and is excited to help students make their travel dreams a reality.
Amal, Peer Advisor
Greetings, I’m Amal Mohamed, a Peer Advisor in the Center for Education Abroad and Away at Minnesota State University, Mankato majoring in International Relations and minoring in International Business. A tidbit about myself—I recently moved to Minnesota from Nashville, Tennessee, but I was born in Nairobi, Kenya even though I am originally from Somalia. I enjoy learning about new cultures and aspire to study abroad during my time here at MSU, Mankato! I’m excited to be a part of the CEAA community and offer assistance for those interested in Studying abroad.
Hope, Peer Advisor
Hello, my name is Hope Benike and I am a freshman at MSU Mankato. I am majoring in Pre-Dental with a primary focus in Biology. I have never left the United States, but I have been fortunate enough to explore many states like: Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa, California, the Dakotas, and Wyoming. I love to travel and I hope to someday, in the near future, study abroad somewhere in the Pacific. As I am working to fulfill my dreams of traveling, I would love to help you with yours as well!