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Fostering international student success at James Madison University

Posted on March 8th, 2014

After experiencing cross-cultural studies and interacting with students from all over the world during their undergraduate years, several EMU alumni have found their perfect job in facilitating this same rich exchange at the larger university a few miles away. James Madison University has a thriving community of approximately 450 international students and scholars from 75 countries. More than 20% of the student population is of diverse ethnicity. Three EMU alumni – Delores Blough ’80, Jon Kratz ’00, and De’Shay Turner ’08 – work locally with a global perspective.

For the past nine years, Blough has been director of international student and scholar services within the office of international programs. She and her staff of six, including Kratz, provide a variety of services to international students and faculty, including the handling of immigration paperwork, orientation and cultural adjustment workshops, and social activities.

After graduating with a degree in social work, Blough earned a JD at Georgetown University Law School and spent 17 years in the Washington D.C. area, practicing immigration law and providing training in conflict management. In 1997, she became director of international student services at EMU. Seven years later, she moved to JMU.

After Blough went to JMU, Kratz moved from an admissions counseling position at EMU to take her place. In 2011, he joined Blough at JMU to fill a newly created position as assistant director of international student success.

At EMU Kratz developed his abilities through an array of experiences: travels through Northern Ireland and Ireland, two seasons with the soccer team, and years as an assistant at Roselawn and with the Peer Advisory Committee, facilitating peer-to-peer relationships and resolving conflict. Add a business administration degree with a focus on human resources, blend in an interest in international students, and Kratz suddenly, unexpectedly, had a career in higher education.

De’Shay Turner is associate director of multicultural student services at JMU. The Center for Multicultural Student Services oversees 14 student organizations, from the college’s NAACP chapter to Asian and African student unions, and Black and Latino alliances, as well as 10 Greek organizations and their intercultural council.

A self-professed homebody before attending EMU, Turner has first-hand knowledge of how travel can broaden horizons. Since that first trip to Germany and Switzerland on his cross-cultural, he has traveled on alternative spring break trips with JMU students to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, volunteering with mental health patients and helping to build a home in an impoverished village.

— Lauren Jefferson

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