Workshop Spotlight: Building a Supportive Campus Environment for Globally Mobile LGBTQ+ Students

March 10, 2017

By Dawn Cepica

The NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo provides a unique opportunity for professionals from around the world to gather as the largest community of international educators to listen, learn, network and connect with one another. The Current Topics Workshops (CTWs) are a great way to gain relevant knowledge and walk away with practical applications to further enhance professional growth and development.

As this year’s Annual Conference Committee Workshop Coordinator, I am excited to highlight three CTWs that will surely expand your community and strengthen connections at your various institutions and campuses.

Amber Cordell is the educational programs manager at Michigan State University in the Office for International Students and Scholars, and she kicks off our spotlight series as we learn more about the CTW, Building a Supportive Campus Environment for Globally Mobile LGBTQ+ Students.

Discuss the timely relevance of your workshop for international education professionals.

Cordell: This workshop is timely for many reasons. As more students travel the globe for international education, we have seen an increase in LGBTQ+ students who need support before, during, and after their study away. Very little research currently exists on this topic, but more of us are being called upon to serve students who may be facing increasing incidents of homophobia, transphobia, hate crimes, and a less-than-welcoming climate. Uncertainties about U.S. laws and policies regarding immigration and LGBT issues have heightened fears and concerns about the future.

Who would benefit most from participation in this workshop?

Cordell: Anyone who could potentially work with students who identify as LGBTQ+ studying abroad or coming to the United States from around the world would benefit from this workshop. Our pan-NAFSA panel includes educators from education abroad; international enrollment management; and international student and scholar services.

Describe one takeaway from this workshop a participant would be able to apply at their home institution or organization?

Cordell: Participants will be able to design their own communication, programming, and outreach plan to impact and improve the LGBTQ+ student experience after seeing examples of what other institutions and organizations have implemented.

How will your CTW inspire those who participate?

Cordell: Participants of our workshop will be inspired by the stories of LGBTQ+ international students who have navigated life and studies in the United States. They will also be inspired by pioneering efforts international educators and campus partners have made to support globally mobile LGBTQ+ students.

To learn more about this CTW and all of the workshop offerings in Los Angeles, check out the NAFSA 2017 Annual Conference Preconference Workshops at www.nafsa.org/ac17workshops.


Dawn Cepica is the 2017 NAFSA Annual Conference Committee Workshop Coordinator and lead administrator of faculty and staff immigration services in the Office of International Affairs at Texas Tech University.


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