NAFSA is proud that our RISE Fellows come from nearly all our regions across the United States.

Meet the current cohort of NAFSA RISE Fellows and learn more about who they are.

    Brenda Diaz

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    Brenda smiles in front of a gray background wearing a white polo shirt
    2023-2024 RISE Fellow
    Brenda Diaz graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Technological Institute of Chihuahua I, Bachelor of Public Accounting from the University of Advanced Studies, and finally obtained her Bachelor of Education from the Escuela Normal Superior del Estado de Chihuahua. The latter...

    Kuylain Howard

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    Kuylain smiles with a navy blue shirt on
    2023-2024 RISE Fellow
    Kuy Howard began his career in International Education as a Student Assistant in the Office of Global Education as an undergraduate student at Elon University in North Carolina. His first time leaving the borders of the United States was to embark on an academic year-long study abroad experience in...

    Malikka Hutchins

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    Malikka smiles in front of a gray background, wearing a black hijab and gray blazer
    2023-2024 RISE Fellow
    Malikka Hutchins is an International Education Professional whose passion for the field was ignited by a Study Abroad opportunity to South Korea that would not have been possible without her being awarded a Gilman Scholarship. Upon returning from the trip as the first in her family to ever go abroad...

    Maria Melendrez

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    Maria Melendrez is in front of a blue background wearing a red shirt
    2023-2024 RISE Fellow
    Maria Melendrez (she/her) is the Assistant Director for the Office of Global-Local Affairs (GLA) at Loyola Marymount University (LMU). As a DACAmented professional, she feels extremely privileged to work with a team committed to promoting global learning experiences through initiatives that are...

    Myrna Najera Perez

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    Myrna Najera Perez smiles with earrings on
    2023-2024 RISE Fellow
    Myrna Najera Perez is an International Student and Scholar Advisor at the University of Oregon. Though relatively new to International Education, she has worked with F-1 students, J-1 scholars and student interns, H-1B beneficiaries, and continues to explore and grow her professional development in...

    Phoebe Nishimoto

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    Phoebe sits in a red chair, smiling with a blue shirt on and green earrings
    2023-2024 RISE Fellow
    Phoebe Nishimoto (she/her) is a new International Education professional and serves as the Manager of International Program Logistics for Central College in Pella, Iowa. Before arriving in Pella, Phoebe attended Bowling Green State University (BGSU) in Bowling Green, Ohio, where she received a...

    Keyana Pugh

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    Keyana Pugh is smiling in front of a brick wall, wearing a yellow shirt and colorful necklace
    2023-2024 RISE Fellow
    Keyana holds a Master of International Studies from North Carolina State University and a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her experience working with refugees and being an international student in Guatemala fueled her...

    Hannah Thomas

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    Hannah Thomas, seated outside wearing a white shirt and an orange scarf
    2023-2024 RISE Fellow
    Hannah Thomas joined The College of Wooster as Assistant Director of International Student Services during summer 2021. A Chickasaw Nation citizen, Hannah learned that the way in which she interacts with the world is different from her colleagues and peers. She aims to learn from the other RISE...

    Vaughn Thornton

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    Vaughn smiles in front of a dark background, wearing a red sweater
    2023-2024 RISE Fellow
    As a high school student in Detroit Public Schools, I was exposed to some of the most multifaceted parts of our globe. I took language classes and learned about international work opportunities, and I knew that this was the path for me. Over the next few years, I found myself working and studying in...

    Yang Zhang

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    Yang smiles, wearing a green necklace
    2023-2024 RISE Fellow
    My name is Yang Zhang. I am the Assistant Director of International Admissions at the Millersville University of Pennsylvania. The focus of my job is to provide information about my institution and help students make informed decisions to choose the college that would be the best fit for them. I...

    Alexandro Gonzalez-Calvillo

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    Alexandro Gonzalez-Calvillo
    2022-2023 RISE Fellow
    Alexandro received his Bachelor of Arts in French from Yale University and a dual Master of Arts in International Education Management and Master's of Public Administration from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. His passion for international education stems from several...

    Ariana Stuhl

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    Ariana Stuhl
    Susquehanna University
    2022-2023 RISE Fellow
    Born and raised in Colorado by an Ojibwe mother, Ariana has worked with and lived among various tribes in both the US and Arctic Canada. Now, working for Susquehanna University in Study Abroad, Ariana helps fulfill the university's mission for all students to engage in meaningful cross cultural...

    Aurian Eghbalian

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    Aurian Eghbalian
    University of Alabama
    2022-2023 RISE Fellow
    An Iranian-American who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, Aurian Eghbalian is the Education Abroad Advisor for the University of Alabama's Culverhouse College of Business. Before she joined UA in December 2019, Aurian attended the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, where she received her M...

    Dionne Daniels

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    Dionne Daniels
    Bentley University
    2022-2023 RISE Fellow
    Dionne joined Bentley University as a Study Abroad Advisor in February 2020 on the heels of completing her practicum at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. She takes pride in engaging with different communities on the Bentley campus, including co-hosting LGBTQ+ events, supporting...

    Jaron Hightower-Mills

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    Jaron Hightower-Mills
    University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus
    2022-2023 RISE Fellow
    Jaron Hightower-Mills is an International Services Specialist at the University of Colorado Denver|Anschutz Medical Campus. Prior to joining CU Denver|Anschutz, he has served as an International Student Advisor at the University of Texas at Austin and the International Technological University...

    Jordan Anderson

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    Jordan Anderson
    Anderson University
    2022-2023 RISE Fellow
    Jordan Anderson is from Greenwood, South Carolina and is the International Programs Coordinator at Anderson University. He holds a bachelor's degree in Communication and is pursuing a master's in Organizational Leadership from Anderson University. Read more about Jordan.

    Sandy Wang

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    Sandy Wang
    University of California Irvine
    2022-2023 RISE Fellow
    Sandy Wang is currently the Assistant Director of Programs at the UCI International Center. In this role, Sandy is responsible for the development and implementation of programmatic efforts for international students and scholars at UCI, which includes outreach, marketing, budget planning, and...

    Tessa Lane

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    Tessa Lane
    The University of Texas at El Paso
    2022-2023 RISE Fellow
    Tessa Lane is a Study Abroad Advisor at The University of Texas at El Paso. Since joining UTEP in November 2020, she has served as a selection panelist for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and co-manages a team of student engagement interns for her department. Tessa received her BS...

    Tiff Hayes

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    Tiff Hayes
    Portland Community College
    2022-2023 RISE Fellow
    Tiff Hayes (she/her) is a dynamic and collaborative leader known for supporting, developing, and advocating for international students. She has worked in higher education for 13 years, with the last 6 in international education at Portland Community College (PCC) in Oregon as the International...

    Timothy Bryson

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    Timothy Bryson
    University of Maryland
    2022-2023 RISE Fellow
    Timothy F. Bryson (he/him) is a Black millennial educator whose mission is to help all people identify their passion, inspire vision, and walk in their purpose. He currently carries out this mission as the Program Director of Student-Athlete Career Development at the University of Maryland, College...

    NAFSA RISE Fellows 2020-2021

    • Adán De La Paz, The College of Idaho, Region I
    • Robb McCollum, Southern Utah University, Region II
    • Chris Huh, University of Missouri, Region IV
    • Tia VanHester, Illinois Central College, Region V
    • Caitlin Johnson, University of Kentucky, Region VI
    • Nicole Inclan, University of Central Florida, Region VII
    • Hermella Tekle, Institute of International Education, Region VIII
    • Ogonna Owu, Towson University, Region VIII
    • Emilie Buse, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Region X
    • Loren Scott, Middlebury College in Vermont, Region XI
    • Eric Izaguirre, The University of California, Los Angeles, Region XII