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Meet Our Orientation Assistants

Center for International Programs takes pride in our International Student Orientation assistants and all they do to make the transition of coming to USI a welcoming and memorable experience.

Our leaders work one-on-one with incoming international students. Their responsibilities include greeting new students, helping organize fun activities, and ensuring new students feel welcome at the University of Southern Indiana.

Orientation assistants are more than just mentors. Our Orientation assistants are the face of the University of Southern Indiana and are engaged members of the USI campus community and the Center for International Programs. Their own firsthand experience arriving to the United States as international students allows them to deeply empathize with incoming students to serve as mentors during their studies at USI. 

Gabriela Fernandez, Panama

Psychology major with a minor in Cognitive Science

I am the president of the Spanish Club and work as a student worker for the College of Liberal Arts and as a research assistant at the Psychology Lab at USI. Outside my USI life, I enjoy traveling and watching movies and TV series! I love superheroes and everything related to pop culture! Also, you will always see me on campus with my headphones on. I love listening to music! I decided to be an international orientation assistant because love to learn about other cultures and help others to adapt to being abroad. I know what being an international student is like and I am passionate about helping others, so I really enjoy guiding new international students in this important stage of their lives. 

Ivys Quintana, Panama

English Teaching major

I have been an International Student Orientation Assistant since 2021. Some facts about me are that I enjoy traveling, reading webcomics, and spending time with my cat. I decided to be a student assistant because I wanted to help new international students to adjust to USI by sharing my knowledge as a fellow international student. Being a student assistant helped me develop leadership skills, learn about different countries, and increase my cultural awareness. However, the most rewarding benefit of this position is making unforgettable memories and special friendships with international students

Marvin Acosta, Panama

Civil Engineering Major


"My experience as an International Orientation Assistant has been incredible and rewarding. Being an IOA has allowed me to develop my leadership and communication skills while helping new students adapt to life on campus. I enjoyed creating a welcoming environment, guiding students through their first days at USI, and watching them gain confidence and make connections. The experience has not only been enriching for the new students but also deeply satisfying for me, and I am excited to continue contributing to the IOA team.

As I embark on my final semester, I look forward to enjoying every moment while balancing my final project and my classes. I am from Panama, and I am passionate about traveling and exploring new places. My friends often call me "gymrat" because of my dedication to fitness. I was the secretary for the American Society of Civil Engineers USI Chapter and went to Germany with USI President. I appreciate spending time with friends, and I am always willing to help people."


Fernando Jaén, Panama 

Biology Major

I decided to become an International Orientation Student Assistant because I recognize the importance of having someone to help and guide new international students in their transition to USI. When I came here, everything was very intimidating because the whole experience of leaving my country was new for me. Thankfully, I had the support of other students who helped me to face that new stage of my life and become a confident student, with all the resources I need to succeed. Now, I want to be that student who helps others. I'm very excited to have this new experience in which I'm willing to give my best, but also to enrich myself with the learning and experience of helping others.-

Linh Nguyen, Vietnam

Business Administration Major

I became an International Orientation Leader because I love meeting new people and learning everyone’s stories. This position allows me to meet students from all over the world with various backgrounds and diverse stories that I’m so excited to learn about. I also love helping students feel more comfortable in their new environment. I immigrated to the United States in third grade, and my peers really helped me feel a sense of belonging and feel more comfortable in my new home. I want to support new international students in a similar way and am really excited to meet everyone in this program and learn more about their stories!

Melanie Cedeno Morales, Panama

Electrical Engineering Major

“Being an International Orientation Assistant is a unique and memorable experience that I recommend to every student who wants to gain leadership and social skills. It put me out of my comfort zone at the beginning, but I started to like it and to be more comfortable with it because there are many positive outcomes. I connected with people from all over the world. International students teach me how to see the world from a different perspective, and every time I learn something new about them and their countries. Helping them adapt to the USI community and the United States makes me happy, and I love doing this job because it does not feel like a job. Seeing happy faces and making students feel welcome and appreciated in this community is what I enjoy doing.”

Odalys Caicedo, Panama

Chemistry Major

“The idea of becoming an international orientation assistant fascinated me because I want to help other international students during their transition to USI, ensuring they do not feel alone and have the most pleasant experience. I can describe myself as a friendly person from whom you can always expect a smile and help.”

Anh Truong, Vietnam

Nursing Major

“I was originally from Vietnam and moved to the US when I was 10. Although I grew up in the quiet Evansville, my dream is to live in a big city after I graduate! Fun facts about me: I enjoy doing photography, watching movies, and exploring new places! I decided to become an International Orientation Assistant because I’m passionate about helping others and connecting with new students during their transition to USI. By being in this role, I can put myself past my comfort zone and attain valuable leadership skills. Additionally, I love meeting new people and learn about their diverse cultures from all around the world. I’m excited to share my knowledge of USI and Evansville to new international students."



Yaw Bredwa-Mensah, Ghana

MBA-Data Analytics Major

“I am currently pursing my MBA in Data Analytics from USI. I spend most of my leisure time interacting with people from different cultural background as I love to learn new things from them. My hobbies include football as I support the best two teams in the world Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Manchester United, watching historic documentaries and listening to afrobeat music. 

The reason for applying to this role is to help out international students who are coming to the States for the first time. Thus, as an international student, adjusting to a new culture can be overwhelming and I will like to offer my experiences to ensure that the transition process for incoming international students is smooth and fun."



Miyu Sugiyama, Japan

Communication and Media Studies Major

“My experience as an orientation assistant was unforgettable. I was very happy to meet new international students and to support them with the campus life or lifestyle here. I was nervous before I did this role, but thanks to other leaders and CIP members, I followed through and had good relationships with new students. It was a precious and I really loved that time. 


I'm originally from Japan. Also, I'm a teacher at a Japanese school outside of USI. Fun facts about me are I enjoy baking, watching movies, and traveling. As one of the international students, I know sometimes it's hard to adapt or get used to a new place, so I'm willing to help them and glad to learn about new people and their cultures. I can't wait to meet new international students and how they will impact my campus life!"

Kaito Takechi, Japan

Business Administration Major

“I became an international orientation leader because I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable when starting life in other country. When I came here, I had no idea or even friends. However, I met great international orientation leaders. They completely took away my anxiety. This pushes me to be an international orientation leader this time. Also being an international orientation leader gave me a chance to improve my social skill such as leadership, communication skill, and problem solution skill. I am really excited to meet everyone and learn more about their culture!"


Lendy Dominguez, Panama

Biochemistry Major

"I’m an International student from Penonome, a city in Panama. I’m the President of PANAS club at USI for the period 2024-2025. Some things I like to do are sports and music, specifically soccer and swimming. I’m also a fan of hiking and the fitness life. Being part of the international orientation team is very exciting because I have always liked to provide support to others, and I can help new students adapt and in the same way learn a little about international culture. I’m happy to share with others international students at USI."

Belicia Knoetze, South Africa

Biochemistry Major

"I am an international student from South Africa, I came to the US at the beginning of 2024 and before that I was travelling Europe. I absolutely love meeting new people from all different origins and embracing their cultures whilst also sharing my own. Upon coming to USI, the international orientation assistants made me feel right at home and did everything in their power to make this big transition as smooth as possible. Consequently I gained some great friends. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be that same support for incoming international students and am very excited to be apart of this big adventure incoming international students are embarking on as I was once in their shoes!"