Business & Administration
A native of Muskegon, Michigan, Ms. Thomas has extensive experience in higher education, having worked for three different institutions since 1978. A member of the Georgia State University team since 1990, she has worked for the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services in the College of Education and in the Associate Provost’s Office. She is a member of the Alpha Lambda Chapter of Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars. Her international travel experiences include Mexico, Côte d’Ivoire, and South Africa. Ms. Thomas manages the business and HR affairs for the office.
Amanda provides direct support to the Associate Provost by maintaining calendar, correspondence, and international logistics, including international visitors and Georgia State-led delegations, as well as coordinating International Education Month and the Summer Institute. She earned her M.A. in Intercultural Relations from Lesley University and her B.A. in History and Global Studies from Middle Tennessee State University. She studied abroad in Germany and China and taught English in the Czech Republic. She has been a member of NAFSA: Association of International Educators since 2005, and she is the incoming Chair of the Financing Education Abroad Sub-Committee for NAFSA and the Secretary-Treasurer-Elect for the Georgia Association of International Educators (GAIE).
Homma Rafi, Marketing Specialist
Homma oversees the public relations and marketing portfolios for the Office of International Initiatives. She has over nine years of experience in writing for the media and academia, with a strong passion for international awareness and education. Before graduating with a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science from Emory University, she spent a summer abroad in South Africa with the University’s Journalism Program, where she worked as a writer for Cape Town’s daily newspaper, the Cape Argus. While earning her M.A. in Communication from Barry University in Miami, Florida, Homma served their Division of Student Affairs in a marketing research role for four years, in addition to providing support to the office of International and Multicultural Programs and the Honor’s Program’s China Study Abroad experience. She is fluent in Dari Persian. Homma is excited to share her journalism skills, marketing techniques, and technical strengths as a member of OII’s team and provide enthusiastic support towards the office’s and Georgia State University’s strategic plan.
International Initiatives & Partnerships
Kike Ehigiator, Director
Kike joined the Office of International Initiatives in 2003 as the Project Coordinator for the Ghana Tourism Capacity Development Initiative and simultaneously as Study Abroad Programs Advisor from 2004-2005. Kike manages the universityâs international cooperation partnerships, and strategic initiatives including the annual international strategic initiatives (ISI) seed grants, special China initiatives, and multiple databases that capture international program data. She is the lead OII staff for the Global Gateway project. Prior to her employment at Georgia State, she served as the Institute Liaison and Team Lead for both the Institute of Gender and Health, and the Rural and Northern Health Strategic Programs, at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Ottawa, Canada. Kike holds Bachelors degrees from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria and Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Canada and a Masters degree in International Development Studies from St. Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada.
Chelsea Van Bergen, Project Coordinator
Chelsea joined the Office of International Initiatives in April 2013 as the Project Coordinator for International Initiatives and Partnerships. Previously, Chelsea served as the Program Coordinator for Kennesaw State University‘s PhD Program in International Conflict Management. In 2011, she assisted The Carter Center with the Election Observation Mission in Egypt. Chelsea received her B.A. in Sociology from Georgia State University and an M.S. in International Policy Management from Kennesaw State University. While earning her Masters, she conducted research abroad in southeastern Nepal.
International Strategic Planning & Development
Earl Picard is a Senior Research Associate and Director for Strategic Planning and Development in the Georgia State University Office of International Initiatives, where he has served since December 2000. He holds Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Political Science from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). Picard taught on the graduate faculty of Political Science at Atlanta University from 1977 to 1985. Since 1985 he has worked as an international development practitioner. He has served as Country Representative for the Institute of International Education (IIE) in Zimbabwe (1985-88) and South Africa (1997-99). From 1990 to 1997 Picard was Director of the Office of International Training and Development (OITD) at Clark Atlanta University. In the course of his career Picard has secured and managed development assistance contracts in more than ten countries and has worked as a consultant to local, national and international governmental organizations and non-profits.
Sonya Henry, IUGB Project Coordinator
In her primary role, Sonya manages a higher education development initiative in West Africa through a partnership between Georgia State University and the International University of Grand Bassam (IUGB) in Côte d’Ivoire. Sonya earned her B.S. in Psychology at Georgia State University and participated in the UVSQ exchange program in Saint Quentin-en-Yvelines, France during her senior year. Just months later, she returned to Lyon, France to teach English in two middle schools during the following school year. While in Europe, she traveled to over ten different countries, including Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Belgium, and Poland. Sonya also served as an intern in the Study Abroad Programs office.
Heather Housley, Director
Heather is the Director of International Student & Scholar Services, where she has worked since 1998 in various roles. She received her bachelors degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and her masters degree in higher education and student affairs from the Ohio State University in Columbus. Heather served two years in Senegal as a Peace Corps Volunteer, studied abroad in Chennai, India, and participated in a Fulbright program to Germany. She enjoys learning about the world not only by traveling, but by getting to know the unique and wonderful international students here at Georgia State.
Tammy Rosner, Assistant Director
Tammy is the Assistant Director in the ISSS office and assists Georgia State University departments with obtaining H-1B, TN, O-1 status and Permanent Residency for international faculty and staff. Tammy has worked in international education since 2000 and in higher education since 1996. Tammy obtained both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Georgia. In addition to working at Georgia State University and The University of Georgia, Tammy has been active in both state and regional groups dedicated to the field of international education. From 2006-2008 she has served as Secretary-Treasurer and Chair of the Georgia Association of International Educators, and in 2005 she was awarded a Fulbright grant through the U.S. Germany International Education Administrators Program.
Yun Lin, International Admissions Coordinator
Yun coordinates international admissions processes in ISSS. Originally from China, Yun moved to Pittsburgh, PA with her family in 2006. After completing her master’s degree in higher education at Pennsylvania State University, she joined ISSS in August 2008. Yun reviews and processes applications and issues visa eligibility documents for F-1 and J-1 international students. She also advises international students on immigration and financial requirements, and guides them through the admissions process at Georgia State University. Yun has traveled to several Asian countries and enjoys experiencing different cultures.
Holly Williams, Scholar Advisor and SEVIS Coordinator
Holly joined ISSS in 2007. Holly advises J-1 visiting scholars at GSU and, as the technical liaison for the office, is responsible for ensuring the accuracy and integrity of international student records in the U.S. governments Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). After receiving her B.A. in French from the University of Georgia in 1998, Holly moved to Washington, DC, where she began her career in international education as an intern in the Public Affairs division of the Canadian Embassy. Holly worked with International Visitor exchange programs at Meridian International Center in Washington, and from 1999-2005 worked with U.S. and J-1 Visiting Fulbright Scholar Programs at the Council for International Exchange of Scholars. Holly moved to Savannah, GA, in 2006, where she advised F-1 international students at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Holly enjoys foreign languages and cultures, and feels fortunate to work at a campus as diverse as Georgia State.
Mary McConner, F-1 and J-1 Student Advisor
Mary advises F-1 and J-1 exchange students at Georgia State University. Mary earned her master’s degree in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Student Affairs Administration from Central Michigan University in 2010. While working as a graduate assistant in the International Student Affairs Office at CMU, Mary developed a strong passion for working with international students. After obtaining her master’s degree, Mary moved to Arizona where she worked at the University of Arizona in the International Student Services Department as the International Student Specialist. Mary has a particular interest in learning about Middle Eastern culture and her goal is to become fluent in Arabic. Mary enjoys spending her free time reading, watching movies, playing flamenco guitar, watching sports, and spending time with her family.
Mike Townsend, ISAC Advisor
Mike is an International Student Advisor who coordinates orientation and serves as the advisor to the International Student Associations Council (ISAC). He previously worked with Habitat for Humanity International. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of the Cumberlands and his master’s degree from the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Arkansas. Mike loves to travel and learn about various cultures. He has previously lived in Kenya and Cambodia. Mike enjoys volunteering, tackling home remodeling projects, and spending time with his family.
Before joining the Study Abroad team at Georgia State University, Jeremy spent 6 years in the Education Abroad office at Virginia Tech. At Virginia Tech, Jeremy served as Assistant Director and worked with students, faculty, staff, parents, and international partners in all aspects of the study abroad process. Prior to entering the field of international education, Jeremy worked for several years as a professor of French at a liberal arts college in Michigan. Jeremy completed his undergraduate degree at Cornell University where he studied French language and literature. He spent his junior year abroad in Paris, an experience which ignited a lifelong passion for international education and intercultural development. Jeremy did his graduate work in French literature at Yale University where he specialized in twentieth-century writers, with a particular emphasis on prison narratives, psychoanalysis, and the intersection of autobiography and fiction. At Georgia State University, Jeremy hopes to find ways to allow every student to have a meaningful international experience during his or her time at the university.
Ryan Rathmann, International Programs Manager
Prior to joining the Study Abroad Office at Georgia State, Ryan worked as an Assistant Director of Admissions and as the Logistics and Operations Manager for The Experiment in International Living. While working at this eighty year old 501c3, Ryan had the pleasure of working with international partners, mentors, educators, parents and donors to provide unparalleled access to international education for exemplary students. Prior to entering the field of international education, Ryan received his M.A. in Cultural Policy from The University of Chicago. While working on his B.A. in German and English Literature at Humboldt State University, Ryan spent his summers fighting forest fires on an elite interagency ‘Hotshot’ crew as a lead sawyer and lead firefighter. Ryan’s passion for study abroad was inspired by his undergraduate experiences overseas: a semester in Vienna and an academic year enrolled at The University of Heidelberg. At Georgia State University, Ryan hopes to find innovative and thoughtful ways to pay forward the meaningful overseas experiences that transformed his education, his career and his world view.
Colette coordinates the International Education Fee (IEF) scholarship, serves as the Boren Scholarship campus representative, and organizes the annual fall and spring study abroad fairs. In addition to conducting general study abroad advising, she also hires, trains, and supervises the student employees in Study Abroad Programs, known as the Study Abroad Squad.
Katrina Helz, Study Abroad Advisor
As a Study Abroad Advisor, Katrina provides support to GSU students as they explore their study abroad options. In addition to general study abroad advising, she coordinates the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, GSU’s own Global Experience Scholarship, and the Fulbright U.S. Student program for graduate students and alumni. Katrina also enjoys organizing the annual Crossing Paths, Crossing Cultures international photo competition and awards ceremony every fall.
Katrina holds an M.A. in International Affairs from The New School and a B.A. from Kenyon College. Prior to joining the study abroad team at GSU, she was the Study Abroad Advisor at Bard College. Before that she worked in Washington D.C. and New York in the field of human rights. Katrina’s commitment to international education stems from an upbringing living abroad with parents of English teachers, and her own study abroad experience included a year in Latin America. Katrina has been greatly impacted by her international experiences, and she is thrilled to be a part of any process that helps GSU students realize their study abroad goals.
Stephen Murray, Study Abroad Advisor
In addition to advising students, Stephen Murray works on events like the Broadening Horizons panel and Passport Day, as well as behind-the-scenes processes like health clearance and study abroad insurance.
Stephen is a graduate of Georgia State University, with Master’s degrees in Anthropology and Applied Linguistics. He participated in Georgia State’s Tsinghua University Exchange in addition to having studied abroad in Erlangen, Germany as an undergraduate German major at Georgia Southern University. In addition to his academic experience he has worked in customer service and operations fields and the travel industry. Over the years he has travelled to the United Kingdom, Norway, Italy, Switzerland, France, Mexico, Ireland, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Thailand, Belize, the Czech Republic, and China.
Cristina Roman, Administrative Specialist
Kelcie Evenson, Study Abroad Intern
As a recent graduate of Georgia State University, Kelcie is excited to be interning in the Study Abroad Programs office this year. After studying abroad four times as an undergraduate, Kelcie is pursuing a Master’s of International Education and looks forward to a career in the field. Her passion for study abroad began after her first summer abroad in Mexico following her freshman year, and only grew as she later studied in China and twice in Spain. Between her study abroad experiences and personal travels, Kelcie has visited Italy, Costa Rica, Mexico, China, Spain, Morocco, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Belgium. She looks forward to continuing her travels and helping inspire others to do the same!