Christina Luther, director of International Student and Scholar Services, and Jill Townley, associate director of International Student Life, sat down to explain the many resources available to International Students studying at Portland State. With an emphasis on creating a “home away from home,” as both Luther and Townley called it, the Office of International Affairs is the largest resource on campus for international students. Currently transitioning to its new location on the 6th floor of the Karl Miller Center, the OIA works to connect incoming students to all that PSU has to offer.
Office of International Affairs
Immigration Team: The Immigration Team is available to help students understand and maintain their status while they are studying in the United States. The team works to make sure students don’t “fall out of status,” as Townley put it. For example, the team makes sure students are not under-enrolled, their address information is up to date, etc.
Student Life Team: The Student Life Team connects with students before they arrive in the U.S. and maintains that connection throughout their entire time at PSU.
Peer Mentor Team: One aspect of the student life team is the Peer Mentor Team. Made up of about 40 students, peer mentors connect with students via email before arrival and continue to form those connections as orientation leaders at the International Orientation. Throughout the first term, peer mentors connect with their students weekly in order to serve as a support system in whatever way needed.
Events & Outreach: According to Townley, the goal of the Student Life Team is to serve as a bridge toward other communities on the PSU campus. In order to support this, the Student Life Team works closely with many other resource centers on campus to provide a smooth transition into student life at PSU. Some of these resources include:
Event planning with these various centers is a crucial part of the Student Life Team’s work. Two of the biggest events include the orientations that take place at the beginning of each term and International Night that takes place in the spring.
Student groups: One of the biggest ways international students get involved and find support on campus is through the many different student groups and organizations at PSU. The Student Life Team works to help students find groups and get involved in this way.
International student scholarships: There are a handful of scholarships available through OIA. All scholarships require students to already have completed time at PSU in order to reflect their academic achievements and eligibility. Advising for these scholarships is available through the Student Life Team.
Weekly newsletter: The weekly newsletter shares information about what is going on each week in terms of events, information that may pertain to the international students, and lists of job opportunities available for international students on campus.
Emergency funding: In hopes of supporting students in the unfortunate event of an emergency in their home country, OIA attempts to provide students with security and safety when needed. Students experiencing an extreme financial change are encouraged to reach out to OIA for help connecting with different resources available.
Housing planning: The student life team works to connect students with different housing options in the downtown Portland area as well as help with conflicts that arise with housing throughout their time at PSU.
Intensive English Language Program
Located on the fourth floor of the University Center Building, this resource serves to assist international students that are in the U.S. studying English or students working toward their minimum English language requirement. Within this office there is a tutoring center, academic advisers, a learning center, and their own student life office team that organizes activities and events.
Student Legal Services
As for all students at PSU, Student Legal Services is an important resource on campus that can be utilized for many different reasons. Student legal services can be especially useful for international students when it comes to immigration questions and needs.