November 8. 2022


Dear Campus Community,

I am deeply saddened to inform you of the loss of one of our international students.

was in his first semester in the Master of Arts in Peace & Conflict Studies program. During his first month of studies, he received a cancer diagnosis. He was only 39. He fought a brave battle within the short period of his treatments. Shola took each day in its stride, projecting nothing but positivity and hope, never complaining, even when he was visibly ill from the medications. His health unexpectedly deteriorated and he lost his battle with cancer late last night at Cone Health Wesley Long Hospital. He led a short but very impactful life and will be sorely missed by friends, family, and his fellow international Spartans.
Shola is remembered for being an amazing husband to his wife Ikeade, a doting father to his son Desire and a supportive brother to his four siblings. He was an easy-going person, free spirited, and always willing to go the extra mile for his loved ones.

Shola is survived by a wife and son back home in Nigeria, his sister and brother-in-law who live in Ohio. Our hearts go out to Shola’s family and friends, those who knew and loved him, and other Spartans who are touched by this loss, especially our tight-knit community of international students and scholars, those in the Peace & Conflict Studies Department, and the College of Health and Human Sciences.

A campus vigil is planned in Shola’s memory Wednesday, November 9th, and information will be sent out once plans are finalized.

Please know that UNCG has several support mechanisms in place to offer assistance to students, faculty, and staff who are grieving at this time. The International Programs Center staff are here for you and we can be reached by calling (336) 334-5404 or emailing Students who need individual support can contact UNCG’s Counseling and Psychological Services at 336.334.5874 to talk to a counselor at any time (24/7). Faculty and staff can get free and confidential support through the ComPsych Guidance Resources program by calling 1-800-630-4847. The Dean of Students Office is also available to assist students experiencing academic or personal difficulties and can be reached at (336) 334-5514.


Dr. Maria Anastasiou, Associate Provost for International Programs


With the permission of his family, Olu Mike has created a  GOFUNDME campaign to help rally the community around his funeral and medical expenses.  Please consider donating to his family at the link below.

As the Light the Way Campaign continues, we asked international students to share their Spartan Story during International Education Week. Here are some of their amazing stories.

I came to UNCG with a desire to pursue my master’s in Information Technology and Management. Leaving my parents back home was one of the toughest things for me while traveling to the United States. Moving to the states amid a pandemic wasn’t a great experience. I have been through anxiety and loneliness for various reasons— some of them were due to the transition from one country to another, not being able to meet anyone due to the pandemic, missing friends and family back in the home country, etc. Given the circumstances, most of us have been through something like this. But, I was always very grateful for UNCG, and the opportunity of being able to pursue higher studies in the United States of America, a privilege not everyone has. I always kept reminding myself of the very purpose of coming here and worked hard despite my circumstances and situations. It helped me overcome my fears and insecurities. This experience has turned me to be an overcomer, a much stronger person than I was back in my home country. 

My favorite thing about UNCG is its faculty. I believe we have the best faculty. Everyone I have met so far is extremely hardworking, and they always wanted to get the best out of us. They’re very inspiring. I have high regard for all the faculty and staff at UNCG who are striving every day to give us the best quality education and experience. 

One of the biggest lessons I learned recently is that “Complaining and comparing steals one’s joy”. They never let us be happy, grateful, or content with what we have. Being motivated, inspired, and learning from others is good, but complaining about what we don’t have and comparing our lives with others isn’t a good idea; by doing that we are only hurting ourselves. We are all made uniquely, blessed with unique gifts and talents, skills, and ambitions. We all have different purposes in life. We are on our path to success, only if we focus on our journey without complaining and comparing and by making progress every single day. – Susanna Murumalla





My journey to the United States of America was conceived immediately I finished my Master’s degree program at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria in 2015. I told myself “I AM DONE STUDYING IN NIGERIA”. I cannot obtain my BS, MS and PhD degrees from the same university, same department and with the same set of professors. “Ayeni” – as I often fondly called and inspired myself – “it is time to go outside of  

your comfort zone and experience a new life elsewhere”, I challenged myself – even though I had no inkling of how to go about it. Comfort zone? Yes – I finished atop of the class as the best graduating student from the department during my first and second degree programs respectively! I was not also ready to lower my academic profile because the University of Ibadan is Nigeria’s first and best. Note, this is purely personal, and I would remain eternally grateful to all my Alma Maters and professors- past and present for always showing me the way.  

I took and passed all the necessary examinations, and as prudence would shine on me, I received with glee, my best ever e mail from the Graduate School, informing me of my admission into the PhD program of the Department of Geography, Environment and Sustainability with full tuition waiver plus teaching assistantship offer, sometime in February, 2020. I went to bed that night without food because I was over joyful. I was to resume for my studies in Fall 2020 but the deadly Corona virus pandemic struck and the world was literally closed down. However, with the help of the Graduate School at UNCG, my Advisor- Dr. Dan Royall, and Dr. Selima Sultana, the then Director of Graduate Studies in my department, I deferred my resumption till Spring 2021. And in December 2020, the son of a shoe cobbler finally boarded the airplane for the first time, and he flew to the United States. Bidding my cherished family members good-bye at the airport was indeed a tough moment for me. In all, any delay is not a denial. Do not let your current circumstance and socio economic backgrounds stop you from fulfilling your set goal(s). 

Settling down was very easy for me because I had a number of Nigerians on UNCG Campus. They did everything for me and even accommodated me for few days before I moved to my own apartment. Since then, my life has changed positively. My professors have never disappointed me as they have shown great depth of knowledge and professionalism in their various fields. What about the facilities in my department-top-notch Geographic Information Science laboratory, serene environment, diversity amongst the students, my equipped office, Regolith laboratory? The list is endless! A slow and steady night-drive in and around the UNCG Campus would reveal its beauty and greatness as a 21st citadel of learning. I cannot easily forget the pantry on campus where I pick free food items every week! What about our precious library that provides all the books and journal articles I need! A big salute to all the guys working in 6Tech. True, the proof of pudding is in the eating! If you are not here, you are nowhere! UNCG is my home after home! I am proudly Spartan!- Shamusideen Ayeni





The interest to be better, do better, see, experience the world and other cultures was the main motivation in leaving my Country to UNCG. It was a little bit difficult deciding to leave because of the special bond I have with my parents and siblings. It was a lot of emotions leaving the familiar environment, people, food and everything I grew up in and with to a ‘strange’ land. Getting here was a bit of a struggle in itself, I tested positive for the covid19 few days to my intended date of travel, I had to reschedule my trip, be on admission and that was a really stressful period of my life but I had my family with me, which made it somewhat bearable.  

Settling down here, I’ve met some really kind hearted people, especially my advisors, they’ve been very helpful. I remember walking into Tuisha’s office and just started crying, she made me feel very comfortable and I was smiling in few minutes. I love my lecturers, you can obviously see they enable us to succeed. They are accessible and easy to talk to. What I love most about UNCG is the fact that everyone is willing to help, there are materials, seminars, mentors and so on, to help along the way. I would advise fellow international students/scholars to be open minded and try to integrate as much as they can. It’s a work in progress but I’m really glad I made this decision.- Olayemi Olofin




What brought me to UNCG was mainly the fact that my home university had a few partnerships with some American schools and I thought that this one, due to it’s location, it’s diversity, it’s campus infrastructure and academic level, was the suitable one for me. Moreover, I had been in touch with an Uruguayan girl that studied in the same university as I am studying and who did an exchange at UNCG and she was really happy with the experience. 

My major worries before coming to the US were literally being home sick and missing my family and friends, which did not happen at least in a serious way. Although there were not many roadblocks in order to come to UNCG to study, I feel that the process of application was somewhat overwhelming due to the requirements of the US Department of State and other official institutions to come to this country.  

I will definitely take away from my experience at UNCG the marvelous and outstanding people that I have met here, and that became my friends in a short period of time. Also, the things that I’ve learned in the different courses that I took, that I feel had contributed to my wisdom. Furthermore, having improved my english is one of the things that I value the most as well as meeting people from different countries, cultures and races.  My favorite thing about UNCG was the charm that the people here posses and living the American way of life in a campus that offers students a myriad of opportunities. 

To any other student that may be willing to come to UNCG, I would absolutely tell him/her to COME. I am so thankful and grateful with the decision I took to come here that I feel that no one would regret doing so. This is an amazing university which offers it’s students everything they need to succeed and have a great time while being here. I couldn’t find any aspect of it that would hold someone back from coming. – Juan Ignacio Berro














The Amazing Race

The International Student Association (ISA) is focused on building a strong and collaborative network to support the international community at UNCG and globalize our campus community by promoting and providing opportunities for intercultural exchange. We welcome everyone!

You can build your leadership skills in many different ways in our organization. For example, volunteering at our events, joining our eboard, helping us expand ISA with all your creative ideas, and more!

Through ISA, one is able to create wonderful connections and friendships with people from around the globe. The opportunities are endless and the world’s cultures are so vast. ISA is the perfect place to start your adventure of learning about all the opportunities available right within Greensboro. 

Our latest event, The Amazing Race, was held in Foust Park. We welcomed new members with fun and crafty activities from four different countries. Countries and activities highlighted were the United States corn hole, Japan’s origami folding, Cyprus and Greek writing, and Mexico’s day of the dead skull drawing.

Find us on Spartan Connect or keep up with us on Instagram to find out about upcoming events!

International Education Week 2021

This year, the International Programs Center celebrated the 2021 International Education Week from November 1st -November 5th!

Launched by the US Department of State as an initiative to celebrate international education and exchange programs, International Education Week has become a yearly tradition celebrated during the month of November by universities across the US.

This year, in collaboration with organizations and departments across campus, we were able to offer over 22 events! While many of the events were virtual, they came in a variety of formats. From panel sessions to cooking classes, events captivated the audience and cultivated participation. There were also several in-person events which included the Faculty and Staff Appreciation Social, A Taste of the World at Fountain View, a tour of the Weatherspoon Museum’s Seven Masters: 20th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints exhibition, Diwali Sand Art, and Sports from Around the World!

Overall, the week’s events were eclectic and attempted to cater to all tastes and interests, providing insights into various national cultures, Study Abroad and related prestigious scholarships, financial wellness, teaching English abroad, OPT, immigration, and more! The UNCG community also had the opportunity of taking pictures beside our world globe at the Elliott University Center and the winners of our International Education Week Photo Contest were announced and recognized!

If you are reading this and have a memory to share with us from International Education Week, please write to us at We look forward to seeing you at next year’s International Education Week! In the mean time, be sure to subscribe to IPC’s events calendar for ways to get involved with international-happenings all year long!

Center for New North Carolinians

UNCG’s Center for New North Carolinians (CNNC) promotes access and integration for immigrants and refugees in North Carolina by bridging newcomer populations with existing communities through direct service provision, research, and training. Specifically, the CNNC conducts community-based outreach and programming, research and evaluation studies, and experiential training and leadership development to facilitate access to education, employment, health, and social services. The CNNC served over 2,000 immigrants and refugees annually. Its programs include the Community Centers Program which works collaboratively with partner agencies to provide on-site programming to immigrant and refugee families with a focus on employment, health, education, and social service access; Immigrant Health ACCESS Project which assists uninsured adult immigrants and refugees in obtaining health coverage and accessing integrated healthcare services in Greensboro; Thriving at Three which offers educational and support services to at-risk Latinx families with children ages 0-3; Immigration Services whose accredited staff offer high quality, low-cost or no-cost immigration services; Interpreter ACCESS Project which trains bilingual and multilingual individuals to become professional interpreters and operates a fee-based interpreter bank to provide health and human service access to individuals with Limited English Proficiency; and the CNNC Fellows who seek to strengthen immigrant and refugee communities through participatory research and evaluation.

The CNNC recently hosted its third annual Shifting Worlds Symposium with the assistance of the Fellows. This year’s symposium, titled “Engagement with Refugee and Immigrant Communities during a Pandemic: Collaborations, Challenges, and Resilience” included sessions dedicated to discussing support and services accessibility to immigrant and refugee communities. Nearly two hundred individuals registered to attend the sessions throughout the day.

The CNNC has also received several recent grants to support the implementation of its work: A US Citizenship and Immigration Services grant for the provision of free legal services for naturalization, and Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and CDC Foundation grants to increase vaccination access, awareness, and education among refugee and immigrant communities. The CNNC has been recognized for its efforts with the 2021 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award and the 2021 C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award.

Most recently, in recognition of extraordinary community outreach, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities has named UNC Greensboro the winner of the 2021 C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award.

UNCG is recognized for its multipronged approach to increasing access to culturally responsive scholarship and community engagement. Through initiatives such as the Immigrant Health ACCESS Project (IHAP), part of the UNCG Center for New North Carolinians (CNNC), UNCG has helped create multi-directional pathways of health care access to marginalized communities.
IHAP reaches over 700 uninsured immigrant and refugee adults in Greensboro each year. CNNC is transforming refugee and immigrant services as it also transforms understanding and scholarship about the issues facing these communities. CNNC students, faculty, and community research fellows have contributed 25 peer-reviewed publications and over 20 practitioner-oriented publications and reports. Read the full story here!

Study Abroad and Fieldwork Experiences for Undergraduates in Anthropology

As a cultural anthropologist who has enjoyed many years of interesting international fieldwork experiences, I readily encourage undergraduate students to participate in a study abroad experience for a semester or longer while attending UNCG. Longer-term stays enable a student to learn more of the language and culture wherever they may be studying abroad. A student may even reach a point in their transformative experience where they wish they could have stayed longer and can’t wait for their next travel or fieldwork experience. Such students catch the cultural exploration and travel bug and look for ways to maintain their international connections in their daily and professional lives. 

Undergraduates who take Methods in Cultural Anthropology (ATY 362), a writing course that provides hands-on experiences, complete the course by learning ethnographic methods and applying them to a grant proposal, which is the final written project for the course. The grant proposal is modeled after the proposal available at UNCG from the Undergraduate Research and Scholarship and Creativity Office that funds empirical research opportunities. Students who plan ahead, take this methods course in advance of participating in their study abroad experience, design their grant proposal around their semester or year abroad, where they are able to be in country to collect data while studying abroad. This opportunity is fantastic training for a future field cultural anthropologist. Some students have collected sufficient data and left enough time in their academic careers to complete a Disciplinary Honors thesis too. Students present their research at the Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo and sometimes at the Undergraduate Honors Symposium. Over the years some students also have presented at professional conferences such as the Society for Applied Anthropology or the American Anthropological Association. 

A recent example is Liliana Vitale (May 2021 Alum) who was awarded an URSCA for conducting empirical research on French Food Identity: The Connection between Local Agriculture and Gastronomic Traditions in the Loire Valley”. She spent the Fall semester 2019 in Angers, France and managed to visit farmers market and farms, meet farmers, take cooking classes, and interview French locals on food and culture. She returned to UNCG January 2020 which gave us time to begin a poster for Annual Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo, but Covid-19 sent us all home in March 2020, and we all became zoom experts.  In April 2020 Liliana delivered her poster with audio recording on-line which was entitled “Findings from Fall 2019 research in the Loire Valley”. The poster served as starting point for her Anthropology Disciplinary Honors Thesis, which required further data analysis. Liliana later presented her work entitled “A Taste from France: Understanding Angevins’ Food Culture” at the Society for Applied Anthropology annual conference in Spring 2021. We have co-authored a piece for journal submission entitled “Taste and Terroir: Understanding Angevins’ Food Culture”. With almost four months in the field, Liliana’s study abroad experience, coupled with her Anthropology and French academic training at UNCG, she is prepared for her next steps – further studies of food, foodways and cultural traditions – a topic she can explore in Appalachia as well as France or other places, be they international or domestic. 

Professor Susan L. Andreatta, Ph.D., Anthropology Department

JSNN Researchers Use Nanotechnology to Contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2000, following the establishment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a U.S. Government research and development (R&D) enterprise, it was envisioned that nanotechnology would offer sustainable innovations toward society’s most challenging problems. The field of nanotechnology has emerged and is offering efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly innovations that are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Because of its integration of science, technology and engineering to converge knowledge, nanotechnology offers strategies for end-users to adopt solutions for an improved quality of life.

The Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN), a collaboration between North Carolina A&T State University and UNC Greensboro, is leading nanotechnology-based efforts in sustainability research and education. JSNN researchers have enabled technologies that have the potential to transform lifestyles. Its faculty and students have contributed to developing materials for water purification, clean energy technologies, management of greenhouse gases, and the detection and decontamination of toxic pollutants. 

Professor Jianjun Wei, in the Department of Nanoscience was recently issued an international patent, NO: WO2020041575, titled “Compositions and Methods for Enhancing Electrocatalytic Efficiencies” which was issued on March 31, 2021. This patent was awarded for an invention focused on development new materials for clean energy technologies. 

Furthermore, Dr. Hemali Rathnayake, Associate Professor of Nanoscience, along with UNCG Alumnus, Dr. Sheeba Dawood, together were issued an International Patent No: WO 2021/071624 A1, titled “Synthesis of Nanoporous polyphenol-based coordination polymer frameworks and methods of use thereof,” on April 15, 2021. This patent focuses on developing strategies for lithium recovery, which is essential for developing affordable and clean energy. 

JSNN faculty are also involved in new initiatives funded by the National Science Foundation. In 2021, JSNN partnered with Duke University, Carnegie Mellon University and Appalachian State to establish a program titled “The International Network for Researching, Advancing, and Assessing Materials for Environmental Sustainability (INFRAMES)”. The purpose of this program is to educate students and engage faculty in research focused on sustainable environmental nanotechnology. The program assembles the substantial investments in US and EU networks into a coordinated international community of researchers dedicated to assessing the sustainability of the materials our society produces.

JSNN also contributes to a recent National Science Foundation Center for Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability. This $25M center led by North Carolina State University, aims to develop solutions that minimize the mining of phosphorus, an essential element for life. Instead, researchers will develop sustainable solutions to recover, recycle and reuse phosphorus from the environment.  

Through support from the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure, JSNN not only has faculty conducting this important research, but it also offers state-of-the-art facilities that enables this research. From advanced laboratories and cleanrooms to high-tech analytical instrumentation and microscopes, JSNN provides access to researchers to advanced science and engineering research, with an eye toward making the world a better and more sustainable for future generations. 

Dr. Sherine Obare, Dean of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering

Rangel Fellowship Finalist


Rangel finalist Ms. Joy Woods is no stranger to applying for competitive fellowships. Woods was chosen as a Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship and Freeman-Asia recipient for her year-long study abroad program in Japan, and as a 2021 Critical Language Scholarship recipient for intensive Japanese language study. 

“I decided to apply for the Rangel because of my interest in working in the Foreign Service,” explains Woods. “I was so excited to be chosen as a finalist because I didn’t actually believe that it was something I could accomplish, even with the support of my friends, family, and mentors”.

The Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellowship Program is a fellowship administered by Howard University that aims to prepare the next generation of Foreign Service Officers, focusing on diversifying the ranks of U.S foreign policymakers. The fellowship offers full funding for a masters program at a U.S. university, two summer internship opportunities, and provides a direct path into the U.S. Foreign Service.

Woods will have her interview on December 1 and will know soon after if she has received the award. Regardless of the outcome, she has a clear plan for her future. “While I know I’ll go into the Foreign Service, I also want to get a PhD one day and teach Political Science and hopefully inspire other young women of color to do the same.”



Rhodes Scholarship

First awarded in 1902, the Rhodes is perhaps the oldest and most prestigious competitive fellowship in the world, funding future leaders’ graduate study at the University of Oxford. Thirty-two US scholars and 67 global scholars are selected each year based upon their intellect, character, and commitment to leadership through service. 

Ms. Christelle Barakat, a graduate student in Peace and Conflict Studies, was selected as a finalist for the Rhodes for the Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine (SJLP) region. Originally from Lebanon, Barakat is currently pursuing her degree at UNCG with the help of a Fulbright Award, another prestigious international scholarship. 

“I decided to apply for Rhodes mainly because of the community of scholars within it, the scholarship’s focus on leadership development, and the criteria of the scholarship which deeply resonated with me. I felt honored to be selected as a finalist.” Hundreds of applicants competed for two Rhodes SJLP scholarships, and Barakat was one of just 11 applicants chosen to interview as a finalist, a major accomplishment.

After she finishes her degree at UNCG, she hopes to go on to get a second masters in Development Studies and ultimately a PhD. Barakat wants to be involved in both the theoretical and the practical aspects of the field, hoping to teach and work with an international organization such as the UN. “I love teaching and transmitting my skills and knowledge to others and I think that research can impact policy and lead to better implementation.”