Ms. Ingrid Almaguer, Coordinator of Study Abroad and Exchanges
“As the coordinator of study abroad and exchanges, my goal is to actualize the college’s mission of fostering global awareness and providing experiential learning opportunities so that students can experience a diversity of cultures and perspectives. I achieve this by partnering with various faculty and staff members on campus to offer short-term programs that rotate every year! As a result, students who cannot commit to an academic year or semester-based study away program, still have the opportunity to explore the world beyond Plattsburgh!”
Academic Credentials: B.A. in criminal justice from SUNY Plattsburgh and M.S. in student affairs counseling from SUNY Plattsburgh.
Personal Biography: I am originally from New York City and first came to Plattsburgh in 2005 as a freshman STAR student. I instantly fell in love with the natural beauty of the Adirondacks and the community environment here at SUNY Plattsburgh. I loved it so much that I decided to return for my master's and feel incredibly lucky to be able to work for the college that afforded me so many opportunities as a student.
Places I have visited: I have traveled extensively throughout interior and northern Spain and have spent a few weeks as a backpacker in Italy. Most recently, I was able to tour three cities in Colombia and look forward to many more journeys abroad!
Favorite SUNY Plattsburgh activity: My short-term study abroad program in Bilbao, Spain where I was first introduced to Basque culture. It was this experience that influenced me to continue my travels throughout the region and ultimately lead me to my future career path in the GEO office!
Favorite experience as a GEO staff member: Helping students make sense of what at times can be a confusing process. I love watching students become confident and capable in what they’re doing. Studying abroad changes people, and it’s amazing to witness the transformation!
Best advice for prospective study abroad students: It’s okay to feel anxious or scared when you’re about to thrust yourself into an entirely new experience. Life is all about learning how to live with a certain level of uncertainty, but pushing past it anyway. Once you do, you will amaze yourself with all that you can accomplish!
Ms. Liza Bedard, Office Assistant (International Student Services)
“My main areas of focus in the Global Education Office are maintaining GEO financial accounts and supporting the admission staff with the acceptance process for all newly accepted international students.”
Academic credentials: I am currently working on an A.S. in human development with a concentration in criminal behavior through SUNY Empire State College.
Personal biography: I grew up in a small town about 30 minutes from Plattsburgh, I moved to the Plattsburgh area shortly after I graduated high school. Looking for a change I moved to the Saratoga Springs, N.Y. working for Empire State College in the student accounting and graduate student services department. After seven years in Saratoga I decided I was ready to return home to the Plattsburgh area where I have found a great experience working in the Global Education Office here at SUNY Plattsburgh.
Places I have visited: I have visited several places within the United States and in addition I have visited Mexico, the Bahamas and Aruba.
Favorite SUNY Plattsburgh activity: The interaction with all the students.
Favorite experience as GEO staff member: I enjoy international orientation. It is a great time to meet new students and a great feeling that I can assist them with their new experience.
Best advice for prospective international students: We have several activities and programs; take advantage of all that you can to make your experience here the most amazing.
Ms. Kate Friedrich, International Admissions Advisor
"I assist with international admissions. I am responsible for reviewing applications for prospective students and making them aware of the opportunities here at SUNY Plattsburgh."
Academic Credentials: M.S. college and agency counseling, SUNY Plattsburgh; M.Ed. English education, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (Minneapolis, Minn.); B.A. English, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (Minneapolis, Minn.).
Brief Biography: I grew up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota. During college, I studied abroad in Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, I learned how to study and live in another culture. I hope that my experience helps me to better understand and assist international students at SUNY Plattsburgh. I came to SUNY Plattsburgh to attend graduate school. I love my beautiful new home which also has many lakes.
Places I have visited: I have gotten to visit many places in Asia and Europe through personal and professional travel. Some of my favorite places have been Trinidad & Tobago, Malaysia, Cambodia, Japan, Greece and Turkey. I want to visit Ethiopia, India, Senegal, Chile, and a 1,000 other places.
Favorite SUNY Plattsburgh Activity: SUNY Plattsburgh and the city of Plattsburgh have great places to eat and enjoy time with others. One of my favorite activities is to visit restaurants with a group of good friends.
Favorite experience as a GEO staff member: I love orientation at GEO! It is an exciting time to meet new students and help them transition to a new culture. I love assisting students with taking their first steps to success at SUNY Plattsburgh.
Best advice for prospective international students: College is what you make of it. This means that you determine what kind of experience you have here. I hope that your experience at college is amazing!
Ms. Beckie Greenhaw, Office Assistant (Study Abroad and Exchanges)Beckie has been with study abroad and exchanges since August 2005. She holds an associate degree in business administration from Clinton Community College and is currently working toward her bachelor's degree at SUNY Plattsburgh. Beckie has visited many places and enjoys being part of helping students on their journey to study abroad. Personally, Beckie enjoys being a mom, photography, swimming, and traveling.
- Mr. Raneem Kurzum, International Student Advisor
Ms. Brooke Layhee, Study Abroad Advisor
My role is to assist you in the selection of your program, the application process, course selection, and so much more! Our office will also assist with your preparations before you leave via our extensive pre departure orientation and will assist with your credit transfer upon return. There are over 500 programs throughout SUNY, so there is something for everyone!
Academic credentials: M.S. in student affairs and higher education from SUNY Plattsburgh and B.A. in mathematics from SUNY Plattsburgh.
Personal biography: I’m a Plattsburgh native, growing up not too far outside of the city. I knew in high school that I wanted to study abroad during college so that is what I did! It lead me to my passion for international education, where I can work with college students looking for a life changing experience. After graduating in 2017, I found my graduate program here at Plattsburgh, which ultimately led to my career here in the GEO office!
Places I have visited: When studying in England, I traveled throughout Europe as much as possible, including Scotland, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Italy. I’ve also traveled quite a bit within the U.S., Canada, and visited Mexico, the Bahamas, Bermuda, and the Dominican Republic.
Favorite SUNY Plattsburgh activity: Of course studying abroad was my absolute favorite activity! I truly believe this activity solidified my future career path and life goals. This could be the same for you! While here though, I really enjoy the many different events taking place across campus.
Favorite experience as GEO staff member: I love watching the transformation in students, from being apprehensive about the journey they are about to embark on, to the pure confidence they have when they return. They’ve often caught the travel bug too and they’re excitedly awaiting their next adventure. I get to see that passion grow and develop within them, which is extremely rewarding.
Best advice for prospective study abroad students: As one of my favorite professors from graduate school said, “tolerate the distress,” and I’ve found this applied to a lot in life. We are here to support you through something that is very much “the unknown.” It is “the unknown” for many. Do not let that hold you back! Embrace it! You’ll be surprised with how quickly you learn and grow throughout this process. Take the leap! You’ll certainly be glad that you did.
Ms. Amelia Lushia, Assistant Director (International Student Services)
"I am the primary immigration resource for all SUNY Plattsburgh international students (specifically those with F-1 and J-1 visa status). My role is in some ways is like a cross-cultural facilitator, assisting students with the opportunities available to them within their visa type, advocating for them here on-campus and as a liaison with governmental agencies as needed."
Academic credentials: B.A. psychology, SUNY New Paltz; M.A. applied linguistics (teaching English to speakers of other languages), University of Illinois at Chicago.
Personal biography: Growing up in a small-town in upstate N.Y., I always loved meeting people from other parts of the world. Those friends inspired me to travel, study and work abroad. I love working as an international student advisor because I can continue to meet people from other cultures and backgrounds. I moved to Plattsburgh in 2009 after falling in love and marrying a “North Country Boy”. We now have 2 small children that keep us very busy! I love that we live in a beautiful, rural area yet still a short drive from amazing cities like Montreal, Lake Placid and Burlington.
Places I have visited: After graduating high-school, I was a Rotary exchange student in the French-speaking part of Belgium for one year. During that time I was able to travel to many places in Western Europe and visit good friends in Norway (who we often still visit). After receiving my master’s degree, I lived and worked in Mozambique (Africa) as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer. I made sure to take the opportunity to travel to South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia before I came back to the states! Since that time I have traveled to a different cities in China for work, plus my husband and I spent our honeymoon in Argentina. I still need to visit Australia, Antarctica, and many other places!
Favorite SUNY Plattsburgh activity: I love orientation. To me, it’s like Christmas, meeting new international students who are so excited to be here and working with orientation leaders who are amazing people with generous hearts.
Favorite experience as GEO staff member: Watching the new international students laughing, and yelling while playing outdoor summer games at the welcome picnic for orientation. It is so much fun and connects us as human beings no matter where we are from.
Best advice for prospective international students: You are a risk taker because you decided to study abroad. I encourage you to continue to take positive “risks” by joining clubs and sports which will provide you with opportunities that will enhance your experience here! Also, it is always OK to ask for help. The only stupid question is the one you do not ask.
Mr. Peter Rodenberg, International Admissions Advisor
Academic Credentials: I have an M.A. in T.E.S.L. (Teaching English as a Second Language) from the University of Central Missouri and a B.S. in history from the University of Central Missouri.
Personal Biography: I grew up in the small town of Warrensburg, Missouri about 45 minutes outside of Kansas City. My college life was quite colorful and included performing in a number of bands, extensive travel and studying abroad in the Netherlands. My study abroad experience was one of the key moments in my life as it really started my journey into international education. After graduating with my T.E.S.L. degree I moved to Jiaxing, Zhejiang, China and taught English at Jiaxing University for seven years. My study abroad experience, in addition to my time in China, has led me to the GEO office at SUNY Plattsburgh and I couldn’t be happier!
Places I’ve Visited: While studying abroad in the Netherlands, I had the opportunity to travel to many countries in Europe including Belgium, Germany, France, Spain, the Czech Republic and more! In Asia, I was able to travel throughout China and Southeast Asia including Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Although I have been to 20 countries in North America, Europe and Asia, I have never been to the Southern Hemisphere, but I hope to change that very soon!
Best Advice for Prospective International Students: Ask questions and participate in class! If you don’t know something, someone else in the class probably doesn’t know either, so don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or for a different explanation. Additionally, it is important to participate in the class. American classrooms often contain discussions so don’t shy away from sharing your opinions and perspectives with your classmates and instructors. In fact, as a former teacher, I can tell you that instructors are thrilled when students ask questions and participate in discussions as it shows them that you are paying attention, interested in the class content and trying your best to make the most of the opportunity provided.
Ms. Michelle St. Onge, International Recruitment & Admissions Specialist
"My role in the Global Education Office is to help international students around the world discover the amazing things that SUNY Plattsburgh has to offer them. I spend most of my time working on communication and marketing materials, and helping newly accepted students make the decision to enroll here for their U.S. studies."
Academic Credentials: M.A., higher education and student affairs, Bowling Green State University (Ohio), M.A., guidance and counseling, Bowling Green State University (Ohio), B.A., psychology, University of Vermont.
Brief Biography: I have worked in GEO for almost 14 years. During that time I have held positions in study abroad, intercollegiate athletics, student affairs, and the career development center. I grew up in Vermont, but I have also lived and worked in Bowling Green, Ohio; Oshkosh, Wisconsin; and Syracuse, N.Y. before settling my family here in Plattsburgh.
While in graduate school in Ohio, I worked for the Center for International Programs, where I advised international student clubs, assisted with admissions functions, and planned large scale international events for the campus and community. I have also worked professionally as a residence hall director, career counselor, and corporate trainer. When I am not working, I spend my time playing djembe in a West African drumming group, working out in the gym or running, listening to live music, brushing up my French language skills, and trying new foods from all over the world.
Places I have visited: Business travels include Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Pakistan, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, and Denmark. Personal travels have taken me to Dominican Republic, France, Spain, Morocco, and Jamaica. I was a French minor in college and had the opportunity to study abroad for a summer semester in Avignon, France.
Favorite SUNY Plattsburgh activity: I love to visit in the GEO office! Everyone is so friendly, fun, and interesting. It is amazing to me how much you can learn from people with backgrounds different from your own. I'm also partial to attending PICL potluck dinners and social events.
Favorite experience as GEO staff member: When I first started in GEO, I was the PICL Coordinator. I have fond memories of receiving email and phone calls from community partners and international students with showers of thanks for matching them with each other. I got an unforgettable feeling of satisfaction from helping new students feel more comfortable and connected with our campus and community.
Best advice for prospective international students: Come ready to experience all that our campus and community have to offer. Many of the things that you will learn from your time here will come from experiences that will happen outside of the traditional classroom. The second piece of advice I have to offer is to ask lots of questions, including asking for help when you need it.
Ms. Jackie Girard Vogl, Associate Vice-President (Global Education)
“I provide leadership for the staff and get involved in all aspects of our office activities: international recruitment and admission, international student services, and study away.
“By watching our incoming international students and outgoing study abroad students encounter all sorts of challenges (i.e., academic, financial, social, etc.) with amazing maturity and resourcefulness, I have learned that all things are possible if you are committed to excellence and willing to give support and accept help from your friends.”
Academic Credentials: B.A. classics, College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, Massachusetts); Ed.M. administration, planning, and social policy, Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
Brief Biography: My life, both professionally and personally, is never boring. My days are spent interacting with prospective students, current students, alumni, professionals worldwide, and on-campus colleagues (mostly via e-mail). My evenings are spent with my family of three sons and my husband, Steve. On the weekends, I enjoy the many outdoor activities available in the North Country: cycling, running, hiking, skiing, etc. I've particularly enjoyed working with some talented international students over the past many years, many of whom I am pleased to call friends now that they are out there in the “real world.”
Places I have visited: I have traveled to more than 70 countries! I've enjoyed all of my travels and am always intrigued by both the differences and similarities in cultures and behaviors.
Favorite SUNY Plattsburgh activity: I love orientation week! It's busy and exhausting, but so great to meet all the new students IN PERSON (and sometimes their families) after the months of interacting via email, WhatsApp, and Skype. And once winter begins, I look forward to watching our women’s hockey team play and win in the Stafford Ice Arena.
Favorite experience as a GEO staff member: Meeting the families of the students I know at graduation. I feel privileged to have a close relationship with many students, both international students and students who have studied abroad, and I am honored to be present as they prepare to continue their lives beyond our campus community.
Best advice for prospective international students: Always attend class, be on time, and be willing to participate in classroom discussions. Students should recognize that some of the most important things they will learn at university are taught outside of the classroom, so get involved and seize the opportunities around you. In the words of Pliny the Elder in the first century, “Fortune favors the bold!”