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.
Homma Rafi, Marketing Specialist
Homma oversees the public relations and marketing portfolios for the Office of International Initiatives. She has over ten 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.
Michelle Robinson, Administrative Assistant
International Partnerships & Agreements
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 university’s 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 coordinates the approval of partnership agreements, partnership and related data, and new initiatives including the Faculty Mentoring Program and the Faculty International Partnership Engagement (FIPE) Grant. 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.
Danielle Borrero, Data Administrator
Danielle joined the Office of International Initiatives in January 2014 as the Data Administrator for the International Partnerships & Agreements unit. Serving as the unit’s Data Steward for GSU partnership agreements, Danielle ensures a smooth transition to the unit’s new automated system by managing documentation, rectifying data integrity and improving reporting procedures. From 2002-2013, Danielle worked for the United States Air Force as a Logistics Management Specialist at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. During her time there she worked in the Workforce Development office and managed documentation and classification review for over 2,000 positions in the areas of training, career development and personnel management. She also provided administrative support to senior level Generals during Weapon System Reviews and Joint Logistics Boards. Danielle holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.
International Programs and Projects
Amanda Roshan-Rawaan, Director
Amanda joined the Office of International Initiatives in 2010 first as a Study Abroad Advisor and then as the Executive Assistant to the Associate Provost. Amanda manages many of the various international programs and projects that originate in OII, including the Summer Institute, as well as oversees the five emerging-market task forces and special on-campus programming, such as International Education Week. 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 Chair of the Financing Education Abroad Sub-Committee for NAFSA and the Secretary-Treasurer for the Georgia Association of International Educators (GAIE).
Sonya Henry, IUGB Project Coordinator and South Africa Initiatives 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. She works closely with various campus departments to ensure that these students adjust successfully to GSU. Sonya also serves as the South Africa Initiatives Coordinator and supports the South Africa Task Force, in addition to assisting OII with a variety of programs, including the annual Faculty Award for Global Engagement. Sonya has earned both her Bachelor and Master degrees at Georgia State, along with a graduate certificate in International Education. She studied abroad and taught English in France and has traveled to multiple European countries, Côte d’Ivoire, and Korea.
Lingxi Gao, China Initiatives Coordinator
Lingxi Gao, originally from China, serves as the China Initiatives Coordinator in the Office of International Initiatives. She works closely with the partner universities in China on various international programs and projects. She coordinates the Summer Institute and China task force. In addition, Lingxi serves as the point of contact for students who are interested in partner programs between Georgia State University and universities in China. Pursuing her Master’s degree in Intercultural Communication at University of Maryland, Baltimore County provided her with various opportunities and skills to connect with people from different cultural background and prepared her to communicate effectively in both Chinese and U.S. cultures. Lingxi loves to take pictures of fun cultural facts and murals.
Amanda (Mandy) Ruiz, Brazil Initiatives Coordinator
Mandy joined the Office of International Initiatives in 2014 as the Brazil Initiatives Coordinator and serves as a liaison between Brazilian students, university departments and representatives from her country. Mandy also serves as a cultural point of contact for students interested in the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program. Born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil she studied Business Administration at Universidade Santa Cecília in Santos, Sao Paulo. In 2007, she came the U.S to improve her English. In 2009, she started to attend classes at Georgia Perimeter College where she was invited to tutor Portuguese classes for American students. Also at GPC she worked as an International Peer Assistant mentoring other international students. In 2012, she transferred to Georgia State University and started working in the office of VP of Finance and Administration. In 2014, Mandy received her B.A. in Marketing from the J. Mack Robinson College of Business.
Ahu Kostak-Bulat, International Programs Manager, Turkey
Ahu Kostak-Bulat is the International Programs Manager for Turkey Initiatives. Ms. Kostak-Bulat has strategic and operational responsibility for coordinating and supporting programs and projects related to Turkey. She also serves as the Executive Director of the American Turkish Friendship Council and the Turkish Honorary Consulate General for Georgia to actively implement and coordinate educational, cultural, humanitarian, and business programs to improve relations between Turkey and the United States. In her previous positions she worked as the Consumer Rights and E-Business Relations Executive at Vestel Company and as Marketing and Sales Executive at Edpa USA and Altinyildiz Textile Company. Ms. Kostak-Bulat is highly committed to implementing educational programs and working with organizations to provide equal access to proper education.
Ms. Kostak-Bulat has a BS degree in International Relations, Ankara Siyasal, Turkey and an MA degree in European Studies from Marmara University, Istanbul, Turkey. She has also completed coursework toward Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and has earned North Carolina teacher certification. During her studies she has received several awards and scholarships including NATO scholarship to attend NATO Conferences and European Commission sessions in Brussels.
International Student & Scholar Services
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.
Brett Reichert, Assistant Director
Brett Reichert joined GSU on July 1, 2014 as Assistant Director for International Student and Scholar Services. He holds a Bachelor degree from Mercer University, Macon, and a Master of Science in Multilingual-Multicultural Education from Florida State University. In 2000, he was awarded a Fulbright Grant to study the multi-lingual policies of Belgium with support from the University of Antwerp. He went on to teach EFL for the Samsung Global Management Institute in Seoul, Korea for 2 years and later served as ESL Director for SCAD and Student Services Director at SCAD Lacoste (France). From 2010 – 2014, he lead the International Student Services Office at Clayton State University. Brett’s own study abroad travels began as a student in 1988 on a year-long tour with the international “Up With People” program. Since then, he has travelled or worked in 31 countries, speaks French fluently and is dedicated to the success of international students from all walks of life.
Jenny Callahan, Scholar Advisor
Jenny is the Scholar Advisor assisting Georgia State University departments with obtaining H-1B, TN, O-1 status and Permanent Residency for international faculty and staff. She also assists departments to obtain J-1 visas for Research Scholars, Professors and Short Term Scholars. Jenny received her bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and her master’s degree in English from Weber State University. She got her start in the International Education field in 2004 and since has work in all facets of International Student and Scholar Services. She relocated to Atlanta in 2011 with her family and is enjoying the opportunity to experience life in the south.
Christy Brozowski, International Admissions Coordinator
Christy coordinates international admissions processes in ISSS. After earning her B.A. in English Literature from University of Cincinnati, Christy jumped around from Virginia to Colorado before finally settling in Savannah, GA. While in Savannah she taught elementary education before ultimately getting her Masters of Education in Adult Education and Community Leadership from Armstrong Atlantic State University. She recently relocated to Atlanta to join the ISSS team! In her free time Christy enjoys being active in the outdoors, yoga, and spending time with 3 nieces.
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.
Drew Webster, F-1 and J-1 Student Advisor
Drew is an International Student Advisor who advises the Robinson College of Business and serves as a liaison to several campus departments. He previously worked for the Humphrey Fellowship Program at Vanderbilt University as Associate Director, working with educational professionals and government officials. Originally from Birmingham, AL, he received his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from The University of the South, a second undergrad from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand and his Master’s from the University of Edinburgh, UK. Drew is a massive history nut and loves to collect maps, along with being a film geek and amateur photographer.
Tyler Askew, F-1 and J-1 Student Advisor
Tyler joined the ISSS staff as an International Student Advisor in October 2014. He primarily advises students in the College of Arts and Sciences. Prior to coming on board at Georgia State University, Tyler obtained a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Wake Forest University and a Master of Theological Studies degree from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Tyler also spent an academic year in Budapest, Hungary on a Fulbright grant, teaching English and advising international students.
Kaori McEwen, International Student Coordinator
Kaori McEwen, originally from Japan, joined ISSS in the spring of 2014 as the International Student Coordinator and manages the office’s day to day operations. She earned her bachelor’s degree in International Studies in Japan, and then, as an F1 student, moved to Georgia where she earned her Master of Public Administration degree from Kennesaw State University. Before she joined the ISSS, she worked for Japanese non-profit organizations to promote mutual cultural understanding between Japan and Georgia. Kaori has traveled extensively in the US and South America and has always been interested in learning about new cultures. She enjoys working out and spending time outdoors.
Isra Hassan, Student Service Specialist
As the Customer Service Specialist, Isra welcomes visitors at the front desk and takes care of all front-of-house needs. Isra received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science with an International Affairs concentration from Georgia State University. Isra was born and raised in the United Arab Emirates in the city of Al-Ain. However, she is Egyptian and Sudanese and speaks Arabic fluently. Isra loves to travel and has lived in many places in the Middle East including Oman and Egypt. Isra is very happy to be part of the ISSS office and is excited to meet Georgia State University’s international students. Outside of work Isra enjoys traveling, spending time with her husband and cats and loves football (or what Americans call soccer).
Study Abroad Programs
Ryan Rathmann, Interim Director/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.
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
Brandon McKinnie, Intern
Before joining the Study Abroad Programs office, Brandon was a Resident & Student Assistant for Georgia State University Housing for 3 years. He recently received his B.A. in Film & Video Studies and Theater Performance. While working on his B.A., Brandon studied abroad in London, England at the well-known Theatre Academy London. Brandon has always had a passion for traveling which ignited his dreams of pursuing international education. During his time here, Brandon hopes to assist students in the process of studying abroad and encourage those who are on the fence to take the adventurous plunge!