With more than 20 years of International Education experience, Kate Stoetzner has recently been named the Executive Director of the Padnos International Center. Her passion serves the students well as they cross borders to new experiences. She’s excited to be helping the GVSU community increase cultural competency and understanding, as well as meet professional and personal goals.
Outside of PIC, Kate enjoys traveling the globe, and spending time with her family and friends. She enjoys the Great Lakes and inland lakes of Michigan. Her favorite Michigan activities include cheering on the mushers in the UP 200 and swimming in the summer sunshine. Outside of the US, some memorable moments have been swimming in the Red Sea, dining in the Prague Castle, and bartering at markets around the globe.
Director of Study Abroad and International Partnerships
Ehren has come full circle in life, having been born and raised in West Michigan, studying abroad in Australia as an undergraduate, and serving in the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan, where she learned to speak Russian. Ehren previously worked in Western Illinois University’s Office of Study Abroad and Outreach, and came to us in the summer of 2017.
Ehren likes the color green, the color of nature. She finds it relaxing, and recharges herself through weight training, running, meditation and yoga. An outdoor person, she also enjoys swimming in Lake Michigan or the ocean.
Ehren wants us to know that “to have another language is to possess another soul,” a quote attributed to Charlemagne. Learning to speak Russian opened her up to another people, another culture, an entirely different way to live.
Padnos International Center Assistant
Vicki Wenger, AKA Victorious VIP (Vicki in Padnos) is responsible for everything that makes PIC run! Vicki is one of those detail-oriented people without whom an office would collapse in on itself in a matter of weeks. Vicki enjoys working with students and the fact that every day in the office is different and unpredictable.
Vicki is passionate about physical exercise; she enjoys running, HIIT class, bike riding, hiking, anything really that gets her outdoors. She’s a frequent participant in various races; 10K, 25K and ½ Marathon. Above all, she enjoys spending time with her family and grandkids and long trips with her husband on their Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Vicki loves the color purple, avocados, and sunny beaches. She’s never met a vegetable she didn’t like. She is not a fan of shoes or those who fail to say please and thank you. So please say hi to Vicki on your next visit to PIC. Thank you!
Study Abroad Advisor
While in high school Meaghann Myers-Smith may have been voted least likely to study abroad, but in the Padnos International Center, she absolutely wins as Best Study Abroad Adviser ever. As a GVSU student, she studied in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, China and El Salvador, which turned out to be life-changing experiences. Meaghann is now the Study Abroad Adviser for the Padnos International Center; as such, she is responsible for hiring and training all of PIC’s student peer advisors, counseling all students in their choice of location, academic program and class line-up, serves as liaison to all other academic advisors across campus, coordinates the Study Abroad Fairs and other related events, organizes all program materials and information, digital and hard copy, and all advising sessions.
Meaghann says “I like that (my position) keeps me connected to young people. I also love that it’s meaningful work. Assisting students with their first journey into this big, beautiful world is incredibly rewarding! Although all experiences are unique, I like to think that study abroad is really the enemy of prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness. This is especially important when shaping the world views of people (students) who will one day likely be in positions of power.”
When not being The Best Study Abroad Adviser Ever and mentor to hundreds, she is the mother of three, fluent in Spanish as a second language, a pop culture maven (Beyonce rules) and can often be heard to ask “where are my (keys, phone, purse)?”
International Programs Coordinator
Alissa Lane’s diminutive size barely contains her ginormous personality and seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm; indeed, some suspect she has an identical twin. As PIC’s Coordinator of Marketing and Outreach, Alissa is responsible for getting our message out to the GVSU community; by effectively using social media platforms, by designing the look and feel of our publications (Global Connections), advertising, and through classroom presentations. She creates and coordinates various events, information seminars, tabling, and video production.
When she’s not busy being a dynamo here, she likes to play soccer two or three nights a week, loves writing, photography, and of course, travel and exploration. Alissa says what she likes most about her job is the chance to “help students start an adventure. Going abroad was the best thing I ever did for myself.”
Director of International Student and Scholar Services
If you can catch the blur of red hair and energy blowing through the Padnos International Center, say hello to Elizabeth (Libby) Jawish, our Director of International Student and Scholar Services. This bilingual dynamo of British and Lebanese heritage speaks fluid Arabic, and loves cooking, baking, sewing, gardening, reading, writing, travel, and adventure in general. She’s never met a vegetable she didn’t like. She is not a fan of laziness, whining, or shoes.
As regards her role at PIC, she says “my favorite part of my work is the students. International students are so strong, interesting, impressive and brave. I love learning from them and trying to help them within my capacity as an advisor-come-mentor-come-resource connector.”
Study Abroad Coordinator
Kristen graduated from Grand Valley State University with a BA in Integrative Studies and first studied abroad in 2015 at Kingston University in London. Since this initial study abroad experience Kristen has lived and/or traveled abroad on multiple occasions, first living and working on organic farms in the English countryside in 2018 and then studying Spanish in Barcelona, Spain in 2022. Amongst the 15 countries she has had the opportunity to visit, one of her favorite and most recent travel experiences was visiting Peru and seeing Machu Picchu and Vinicunca Mountain. Her love of people, new places and experiences, language, nature, and great food, all converge in her one great passion of travel, and she hopes to live abroad again in the near future. She is extremely grateful for the kindness, compassion, and open-mindedness that these experiences in new cultures have provided her.
Outside of Padnos International Center, Kristen enjoys cooking, baking, ceramics, drawing, music, films, reading, and spending time outdoors whenever possible. She hopes to joyfully learn, grow, and travel for the rest of her life.
Once Holl has their mind on something, it is really hard to change it. This is what drove them to study Chinese and study abroad in Shanghai for 6 weeks as an undergraduate. Holl’s interest in China helped decide to pursue a Master’s degree in Shanghai, living in China for 3 years. A lover of cultures, foreign languages, and food, you an always expect a story of them living in Shanghai, and authentic Chinese food recommendations. Their motto for trying new things: “You never know if you like it until you try it.” Holl really can’t decide what their favorite Chinese dish is, but their favorite regional food is Chongqing or Sichuan cuisine (SPICY!!) Growing up in Kentwood, MI, she was exposed to cultures and foreign languages at an early age. Having friends from different backgrounds helped expand their worldview and gain intersectionality skills.
Holl’s role as Office Coordinator is to help run the office and helps primarily with international students and scholars. With their disability advocacy skills and three years being an international student in China, Holl knows what it is like being in international students’ shoes and coming to a new country alone.
When Holl isn’t at PIC, she enjoys cooking Chinese food, doing disability advocacy work, spending time with their favorite people, and playing with their Chinese-English bilingual lab/pitbull mix: Aubrey.
International Student Coordinator
Liz Montoya practically grew up in the Padnos International Center. As an undergrad she studied abroad in Kingston, UK and interned in the office creating a program on gender equity in study abroad. She left for the Peace Corps in Senegal working in rural villages with women and girls on reproductive health and scholarship programs only to return to GVSU to work as PIC’s first Coordinator of Outreach & International Students. After nearly four years in the role she set off for an Assistant Director position with sponsored students at UT Austin, five years in Medellin, Colombia building a family and working as a consultant, and a stint at a non-profit working with New American women and teens. She now returns to PIC as an International Student Services Coordinator and is so happy to be back in an office with people she loves and supporting students in work she’s so passionate about. She’s a yogi and loves to be out in nature and can often be found finding frogs and chasing sunsets with her two boys and her husband Alejandro (once an international student at GVSU himself).
Faculty-Led Program Coordinator
Dr. Kirsten Bartels joins PIC as a Faculty-Led Program Coordinator having experienced all sides of studying abroad (as a student, as a faculty member, as a program coordinator). Taking the path less traveled by, she has wondered throughout Europe with her family while earning her PhD from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth as an international and non-traditional student. Her research explored the depth and breadth of Contemporary Holocaust Fiction for Young Adults before transitioning to examine narratives of the Holocaust in popular video games.
She has journeyed with students throughout the UK, Singapore, and Malaysia, and has planned faculty-led trips to various parts of the globe. While she has been to 5 of the 7 continents, she jokes that her husband will never take her back to Australia because she admits that the next time she sets foot on Australian soil she will never leave.
Front Desk Workers & Grad Assistants
Meet the Front Desk & Grad Assistant Staff!
Meet the Peer Adviser Staff!
Peer advisers are an essential part of the PIC Team! They help guide students through the study abroad process.