We Asked, They Answered! This Is Why These Advisors Work With MEPI Exchange Students

Female and male students from different countries of the MENA region carrying their end of program poster projects

Georgetown University

Christopher Shirley, Project Director, has been working on the program 13 years, and every year he feels a profound sense of having his heart touched by 120 students working so hard at making the world better.

Chantal Santalices, Director of the Center for Intercultural Education and Development, finds joy working with the international students.

Aalaa Abuzaakouk, Assistant Project Director, has been working on the project for a few months, and is excited to see what the program will bring, now that the students are here.

Benedictine University

Tammy Sarver (Dean) and Susan Mikula (Co-Director of Student Leaders) – The Benedictine team loves working with the students. They think it’s important to raise awareness of women’s issues, and to focus on the global nature of the modern world. They’re also consistently impressed with the feeling that they learn as much as they teach.

Portland State University

Kevin Kecskes, Program Director – As an internationalist with a focus on the Middle East, and a professor of leadership and sociology related subjects, he says we’re lucky to have the opportunity for the Student Leaders to visit our communities.

Carol Gabrielli, Program Coordinator – Has been working on the program for three years. She loves working in spaces where you know that the moments are never coming back, and finds that everyone, faculty, students, advisors, are all fully aware of the fleeting nature of the six-week program, and the need to relish each moment.

Montana State University

Janelle Rasmussen, Program Director – Has been working on Student Leaders for 13 years, and her favorite thing is when she meets an alumnus and gets to see the amazing things they’re doing several years later. She added that the close connections the MSU staff and professors make with the students make their lives richer.

Michael Reidy, Academic Co-Lead – Enjoys showing off the U.S. He is always impressed by the way that something he learns from working with the Student Leaders helps him in other classes (history and social justice) he teaches.

University of Delaware

Rachel Garcia, Program Coordinator – Was a peer mentor for Student Leaders when she was a graduate student, and considers it a privilege to help others and see the exponential growth from the transformations they have.

Tracey Holden, Academic Director – Loves that the global reach of this program means that the participants connect in ways that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago;  and that our American staff, students, and especially her 12-year-old daughter gets to experience having friends everywhere.  All of us recognize our connections; that changes how we see our roles to positively #changetheworld.

California State University at Chico

Tami Ritter is a professional mediator who is new to the program. She will be an instructor on conflict resolution and restorative practices. She already loves the 20 students at CSUC and looks forward to lifelong friendships.

Bethany Pinegar, Project Manager – looking forward to seeing the long-term impacts of the program.