On Thursday, December 3, NAFSA hosted a webinar featuring the U.S. Department of State’s EducationUSA Opportunity Funds Program. EducationUSA staff and representatives from two U.S. universities shared information about how the program works and how to get involved. The Opportunity Funds program assists highly qualified students who are likely to be awarded full financial aid from U.S. colleges and universities but lack the financial resources to cover the up-front costs of obtaining admission, such as testing, application fees, or airfare.
Cheryl Francisconi is the regional educational advising coordinator (REAC) for EducationUSA, a network of higher education advising centers sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. She is the REAC for southern Europe, and acting REAC for parts of Eurasia, currently covering 24 countries in the region. She manages the EducationUSA Opportunity Funds Program in 11 countries in Europe and Eurasia. Francisconi has a master's degree in social work and public health from the University of California-Berkeley. She is based in Budapest, Hungary.
St. Catherine University
Aimee Thostenson has worked in international education for more than 15 years and currently serves as the associate director of international admission at St. Catherine University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Aimee holds a BA in anthropology from Macalester College and an MA in comparative and international development education (from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Thostenson has served on the NAFSA Region IV leadership team, NAFSA's National Recruitment, Admission, and Preparation (RAP) team (now the International Enrollment Management team) and is the past chair of Study Minnesota.
West Virginia University
Michael Wilhelm is the director of the Office of International Students and Scholars at West Virginia University, a land-grant university with a comprehensive Health Sciences Center. He has worked in international education for the last 15 years, specializing in the areas of immigration, student services, and recruitment. He presented recently at national and international conferences including the NAFSA Annual Conference, the EducationUSA Western Hemisphere Regional Forum, and the EducationUSA Forum in Washington, D.C.
Jennifer Brown is a program officer for EducationUSA at the U.S. Department of State, in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), and she currently manages the Opportunity Funds Program. Prior to joining ECA in 2012, she worked at the Corporation for National and Community Service and Peace Corps. Her career also includes work for AFS Intercultural Programs and for an immigrant and refugee community organization. Brown holds a master's degree in teaching from Lewis and Clark College, and a BA in English from Pomona College.