KC ISSS Award of Excellence Recipients


The Knowledge Community for International Student and Scholar Services (KC ISSS) is charged with providing professional development opportunities and resources for those in the field of international student and scholar services. This KC ISSS award honors a NAFSA member who has demonstrated outstanding qualities that distinguish him or her as a leader in the field of international student and scholar services.

Nominees should possess qualities of compassion, integrity, and leadership. They also must be NAFSA members and must have been professionals in the field of international student and scholar services for at least 10 years. Nominees should have earned respect and admiration from students, colleagues, and peers.

2018 Recipient - Michele Janosko

Michele JanoskoMichele Janosko started her career in international education In May of 1992 as the administrative assistant in the Office of International Affairs at Duquesne University. It was a long journey from administrative assistant to counselor in charge of all applications to, finally, international adviser, which was her ultimate goal. At the time there were no websites for guidance. She spent one whole summer taking the NAFSA manual home every evening and reading and reading. While reading was helpful, the job requires actual hands on training, which she received from a generous mentor, Linda Gentile.

Michele served as the regulatory ombud for two years and to this day she still hears from other advisers because of that. She has also been integral in the Pittsburgh local NAFSA group. Michele believes that networking is key to being successful in this field, and that we are advocates for our students. As such, she believes that we have to, first and foremost, know what we are doing, and that without groups like KCISSS our jobs would be so much more difficult.

Michele tells the story about her dearest friend, who worked for McDonalds Corporation. She made a great deal of money, got stock options and perks like trips to Maui. When Michele would worry about one of her students this friend would say, “Why are you so upset? You don’t make enough money to worry so much.” Michele would always tell her, “Remember, you work with hamburgers, I work with international students. If I make an error I could ruin someone’s life – that does not happen with hamburgers!” Michele understands the enormous responsibilities we have to keep our students safe, in status, and successful.

2017 Recipient - Masume Assaf

Masume AssafMasume Assaf has advised international students at Penn State for 30+ years. She has served on NAFSA's Board of Directors and has been a presenter at several NAFSA conferences – mostly in the area of F and J regulations. Assaf was the recipient of NAFSA's Region VIII Award for Outstanding Contributions to International Education in 2005 and received the former Region IX Award for Outstanding Contributions to International Education in 1990.

In 2006, she received the Administrative Excellence Award from Penn State. Assaf co-authored F-1 Regulations for Beginners Linda Gentile as well as the recently revised electronic edition. She served in several positions on the former NAFSA Region IX and served NAFSA as chair of Region VIII. Later she served as chair of CAFSS (now known as KCISS). In 2013 she was awarded the Homer Higbee Award from NAFSA in recognition of distinguished and continuous service and mentoring of fellow NAFSAns.

She has a BA in Near Eastern Studies and Political Science from New York University and an MS in TESOL from SUNY Albany.

2016 Recipient - Heather Housley

Heather Housley is director of international student and scholar services at Georgia State University (GSU) in Atlanta, where she has worked with international students and scholars since 1997. Housley is a long-time member of NAFSA and is a frequent presenter at state, Region VII, and national conferences. She has served as chair of the Georgia Association of International Educators, state representative to Region VII, and chair of Region VII where she coordinated the 2012 bi-regional conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Housley has a passion for student leadership development that led her to initiate and chair a statewide committee to establish the Georgia International Leadership Conference for international and U.S. study abroad students in 1998. The annual conference has served as a model for other states in the region which have developed similar leadership conferences. She enjoys learning more about the world every day while serving GSU’s growing international student and scholar community, and is invigorated by the challenges and opportunities presented by the ever-changing landscape of international education.

Housley served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal and is a past recipient of Region VII’s International Excellence Award. A Tennessee native, Housley is an enthusiastic fan of both her alma maters: the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and The Ohio State University.

2015 Recipient - Chris Bargerstock

Chris Bargerstock is employed by the Michigan State University Office for International Students and Scholars where she is the Associate Director. Chris has had the privilege to work in the field for more than 20 years. She has broad experience with and deep knowledge of immigration in both the student and scholar visa categories. Chris is a long-time member of NAFSA. She has served as the Regulatory Ombudsperson, Dean of J-1 regulatory workshops, International Scholar Network Leader and held many Regional and State positions. She also served as a member of NAFSA’s Trainer Corp, presented conference workshops and sessions, and assisted with collegial conversations. Chris is a past recipient of the Michigan Association of International Educators (MAIE) David D. Horner Award for Exceptional Service.

Always willing to share her knowledge with others, Chris loves presenting at beginners workshops and sessions to support new NAFSAns eager to soak up the knowledge and the excitement of learning in their new found field. For her, there is never a dull day on the job, there is always an interesting student case or immigration situation that needs unraveling. Her resume will list her committee assignments and roles in international education, but her colleagues and peers know that “ her resume does not reflect the kindness and clarity of her communication in support of newbies who are learning international education.”

2014 Recipient - Regina Henry

Regina HenryRegina Henry is employed at Oklahoma State University, International Students and Scholars office as the Coordinator of Immigration. Regina has had the privilege to work in the field of international education for more than 30 years. She has extensive immigration knowledge in both the student, scholar and faculty visa categories. Regina has also been involved with personal, financial, cultural advising and orientation programs for students and scholars. Regina enjoys experiencing and sharing the different cultures that are present at Oklahoma State University and gets pleasure in the seeing the students' attain their education goals.

Regina is a long time member of NAFSA and during her tenure as a volunteer member; she served on the Trainer Corp for more than ten years. Regina presented numerous immigration workshops, and was a member of the Education and Training committee for several years. She also served in several NAFSA Region III leadership roles such as International Student and Scholar representative, Local Arrangements Chair, Registrar, Regional Chair, and Regulatory Ombuds for student issues. Regina has been described by her fellow colleagues as a "model of selfless service with her gifts, her time and her talent," "compassionate and knowledgeable in her work," and "an extremely valuable international educator who is respected and admired greatly by her colleagues."

2013 Recipient - James Luyirika-Sewagudde, Jr.

James Luyirika-Sewagudde, Jr. has been a member of NAFSA since 1975 when as a graduate assistant he started what he considers a rewarding, exciting and educational journey. Earlier in his career he had the opportunity to serve as Chair of Region XII lead team. He has been actively involved in the affairs of the region and in particular as a member of NAFSA’s Trainer Corps. It is his belief that serving on the Trainer corps is a reward in itself given that one is always engaged with peers, new professionals and team members and has access to the most recent information available in the field with a perfect delivery vehicle. The fact that he can be of value to other professionals whenever a need arises is an added reward.

James was selected to and serves as a Coach for the NAFSA Academy. He considers this a distinct honor and privilege to be working closely with other Coaches across the country and the NAFSA Academy Staff who are a dedicated, competent and passionate group of fun professionals. He has the enviable position of working with trainees, professionals in the field who, it is apparent, will take leading roles in the various sectors of International Education. Undoubtedly, James contends, his continuing interactions with students, be it in classrooms, organizations, in the office or during random encounters, bring him unparalleled joy and satisfaction.

Currently James serves at California State University Chico as the Responsible Officer (RO) and the Principal Designated Official (PDSO) responsible for the relevant processes from orientation to status and compliance. Born in Uganda, he holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Gustavus Adolphus College, a master’s degree in Education with an emphasis on comparative education, and also a master’s in Psychology from California State University, Chico. He has studied in Costa Rica and also spent some time as a Fulbright Scholar in South Africa. Additionally, James has spent considerable time studying and researching issues around intercultural communication and intercultural competence and has led several related conversations and workshops with the belief the peace is possible.

2012 - Robin Catmur

Robin has been an active member of NAFSA both at the regional and national level since 1995. She is a tireless advocate and source of knowledge for her fellow NAFSAns who work in international student and scholar services. She has served as the Regulatory Ombudsperson for Region XI and VII and liaises with USCIS for colleagues who need assistance and troubleshooting with pending scholar and employment-based immigration cases. She also serves as a trainer for NAFSA and routinely presents conference workshops and sessions pertaining to nonimmigrant and immigrant visa sponsorships.

Robin moved from her previous position as Director of Visa Services at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire to the University of Georgia in the summer of 2010. Even with her move, Robin was always willing to assist colleagues across the county. Robin has been a stellar mentor, a strong advocate for international education, and a caring and compassionate colleague and advisor. She had introduced key changes on her campus and supported her staff's professional development within NAFSA.

Currently, Robin is the Director of International Student, Scholar, and Immigration Services, Office of International Education at the University of Georgia. She manages all permanent residency work for UGA and supervises five colleagues who process immigration sponsorships for over 2,200 international students, scholars, faculty and staff at UGA. She is an invited scholar to the University System of Georgia's Executive Leadership Institute (ELI) for 2012. Raised in India, Canada, and several places in between, she holds a Bachelor's degree in International Development from the University of California at Davis, and a Master's degree in Globalization Studies from Dartmouth College.

2011 - Adria L. Baker, Ed.D.

Dr. Adria Baker, Executive Director, Associate Vice Provost for International Education, Office of International Students & Scholars at Rice University, has held a variety of leadership positions in her 25 years of working in international education. Her focus on public policy issues in international education allowed her to serve several years on NAFSA’s State Whip Network as Texas’ key congressional liaison, which opened doors for her to serve also on the Governor’s Council for the Department of Homeland Security. She led the Committee for an International Education Policy in Texas, which resulted in Texas H.R. 143 and Texas S.R. 532.

Adria has written several articles and presented often on subjects including advocacy issues supporting international education, international student & scholar advising, foreign credentials evaluation, immigration topics and other related issues promoting international education exchange. Through utilizing NAFSA’s strategic advocacy programs, she has taught many international educators that each individual has an important voice to be heard. Her passion is to promote scholarships to send NAFSA members to Advocacy Day every year. She also created a template used by many states to encourage state-led initiatives, such as state international education policies. The information was disseminated via conference sessions, articles and a webinar. She also co-produced (with colleagues at Rice and the Institute of International Education) the training video “International Friendship Program” for volunteer orientation programs.

She is a Past Chair of NAFSA Region III, and was awarded the Region III Outstanding Service to International Education award in 2004, as well as being recognized as the 2006 Advocate of the Year. She presently serves on the boards for the Fulbright Association-Houston Area Chapter and the Houston Greeters. She studied as a Rotary International Research Fellow at the University of Costa Rica.