International Initiatives’ staff honored by USG chancellor for commitment to service

Two teams in the Office of International Initiatives have been honored at the prestigious University System of Georgia (USG) Chancellor’s Service Excellence Awards for 2017.

Kike Ehigiator, director of International Partnerships & Agreements (IPA), led a collaborative team that created a customized contract management application entitled i-Agree.

Prior to the development of i-Agree, staff in the IPA unit depended on Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft OneNote, a shared drive, a Microsoft Access database, and a website to manage the processes involved in reviewing approving, tracking, executing and publishing international agreements. With i-Agree, the unit now has a dynamic system that depends on a workflow structure that automates the draft submission, review, tracking, filing and database efforts.

The implementation of the i-Agree application, which is available to all 7,000 Georgia State faculty and staff, streamlined communication, workflows, and increased the efficiency to coordinate the review and approval of international agreements for the university.

The i-Agree team was awarded an Honorable Mention for the Chancellor’s Service Excellence Efficiency & Effectiveness Improvement Initiative Team Award.

Implementation team members include:  Kike Ehigiator, Danielle Borrero, Kathleen Monich, Olumide Okeowo, Frank Nwabueze (IIT), and Wendy Lynn Darsey (IIT).

Dr. Mary Helen O’Connor, senior faculty associate for Perimeter College and professor of English, and Dr. Heval Kelli, the Katz Foundation Fellow in Preventive Cardiology at Emory University, established MINA, or the Mentoring Initiatives for New Americans program, in 2016.  Dr. Kelli, a Syrian refugee and Georgia State alum, met Dr. O’Connor, a refugee advocate, by chance in an international grocery store.  Already active as a volunteer for the Clarkston Community Health Center, and founder of a young physicians’ initiative at Clarkston High School, Dr. Kelli shared Dr. O’Connor’s vision to help refugee students succeed in college.

The result was the MINA program, which pairs young adults who are refugees and immigrants with seasoned college students who have roots in the international community. The program’s goal is to help new Americans learn English, navigate the often-confusing college admissions process and provide social support along the way.

The program has already impacted student lives.  With 61 active mentors and 40 mentees, their monthly summits have provided guidance and advice on navigating admission, financial aid, and college life in the U.S. to immigrant and refugee students, as well as provided Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society members service hours for volunteering and tutoring.  MINA supports a core component of student success: creating global citizens which changes their lives and the many lives of those they touch now, and in the future.

Media Contact

Homma Rafi
Director of Communications
Office of International Initiatives
[email protected]

The MINA team was awarded an Honorable Mention for the Chancellor’s Service Excellence Student Improvement Initiative Team Award.

Team members include:  Dr. Mary Helen O’Connor, Dr. Heval Kelli, Alex Santos, Issac King, Katelyn Cole, and Sheen Atwa.

Both groups were honored at an awards ceremony held at the Georgia State Stadium where Dr. Risa Palm, the senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost of Georgia State University, and Dr. Steve Wrigley, the chancellor of the University System of Georgia, recognized recipients of this USG initiative.

“Continuous change at Georgia State University has been our story, as it is required to better serve our constituents,” Dr. Palm said to the recipients.  “This awards recognition is an example that colleges and universities can change and improve.  You are the icons of that change.”

Dr. Wrigley congratulated and thanked the recipients for improving the quality of life for their constituents.

“We appreciate the excellent service and support that you provide towards student success,” Dr. Wrigley said.  “You are the best of what we do at our institutions in our system.”

In addition to International Initiatives’ honors, Georgia State University’s Military Outreach Center, led by director Mark Eister, received the Bronze Award for Chancellor’s Service Excellence Team of the Year Award.

Team members include:  Mark Eister, Lorretta Arrington, John Cockingham, John Douglas, David Garcia, Nathan Gholston, and Chris Noerjadi.

The University System of Georgia’s Service Excellence Program promotes initiatives that unite the System in service and quality.  These initiatives focus on the effective and efficient use of resources to support the success of our students, faculty, staff, and communities.

To learn more about i-Agree, please visit

To learn more about MINA, please visit

To learn more about the Chancellor’s Service Excellence Awards, please visit

For more photos from the ceremony, please visit International Initiatives’ Flickr page.

Photo above (from left to right): Olumide Okeowo, Kike Ehigiator, Dr. Steve Wrigley, Dr. Mary Helen O’Connor, and John Fuchko, III, at the 2017 USG Chancellor’s Service Excellence Award at Georgia State Stadium on December 5, 2017.  Photo courtesy of Bill Roa.

The Office of International Initiatives at Georgia State University is responsible for the strategic integration and coordination of the University’s international initiatives, partnerships, grants, program development and management, events and activities, study abroad programs, and the Confucius Institute.