STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Building a Dream of an Academic Student Service Role into an International Education Career with Alethea Stoltzfus
Say hello to Alethea, a Fall 2015 GPI Participant! Read her story below to find out how she went from being inspired to pursue a career in International Education whilst serving as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant, to eventually landing a job as an International Student Advisor at UC Berkley's International Office!
What do you do in your role?
I provide immigration advising to a population of over 8,000 F and J students in person, via Zoom, and by email as well as serve as a DSO and ARO which works with SEVIS and ISSM (FSA Atlas). Producing visa documents for new and continuing students, along with maintaining knowledge of F and J visa immigration-related laws and Department of Homeland Security and Department of State regulations and procedures is another major aspect of my job. You can find me facilitating immigration webinars and workshops to provide students and staff with up to date immigration information along with managing orientation leader programs and recruiting/ training over 30 orientation leaders every semester.
What were you doing before you joined GPI and how did you become interested in global education as a career?
I had just returned to the U.S. after doing a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Germany, and I was working in retail while I tried to break into the international education field. Working in Germany made me realize that while I loved working with international students, I definitely did not want to teach them English grammar, so more student service-type roles seemed like a better fit for me.
How did you discover Inside Study Abroad and the Global Pro Institute?
I had been following Inside Study Abroad for years!
What inspired you to enroll in the Global Pro Institute?
I was trying to figure out how to break into the international education field, and trying to decide if I needed/wanted to go to graduate school in order to do so. GPI seemed like a great way to get some insider information without committing to a graduate degree.
How has the program helped you to launch or grow your career in international education and meaningful travel?
GPI opened so many doors for me! The program helped me land a job in student services at an English language school, which essentially started my career in international education. It has also been great for networking, as I have had the chance to meet other GPI alumni in person after the program.
What has been your biggest setback, and how did you overcome it?
Being a first generation college student and the first person in my family to get a graduate degree means that I've had to jump through extra hoops to get to where I am today. It has taught me so much independence and self reliance, and that it never hurts to ask (even if the answer might be "no").
What’s your best piece of advice for others trying to launch and grow a career in IE?
Network, network, network! Informational interviews are so helpful to learn more about the field, individual international educators, and how they got to where they are.
Looking back on your international ed career journey, what is something you’re most proud of?
I am really proud of the connections I have made. I have former students that I am still in touch with, a great group of friends from graduate school, wonderful mentors/former professors/former supervisors, and alumni connections from so many different programs and organizations (GPI, Fulbright, Reach the World, Lessons From Abroad, etc.)
What’s your favorite tool or international education resource that you recommend to others? Why do you love it?
NAFSA in general is just about the best international education resource out there - they have conferences, workshops, books, chat forums, etc.
What is one of your favorite non-fiction books that you would recommend to other professionals and why do you love it?
I highly recommend The Re-entry Relaunch Roadmap Workbook by Cate Brubaker - it has helped me immensely through multiple re-entry crises.
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