Partner Feature: Oglethorpe University

We are thrilled to feature one of our host partners, Oglethorpe University, this month! Marisa Atencio, the Assistant Dean and Director of Global Education at Oglethorpe, introduces herself and shares more about the fun programs and opportunities available to international students placed at the university.

Marisa Atencio is the Assistant Dean and Director of Global Education at Oglethorpe University

How long have you been working at Oglethorpe? What is your role?

While I have over 20 years leading International Student and Scholar Services teams that support international students and global education, I started my position at Oglethorpe in August 2018. Now that I’m in my 4th academic year; it’s a bittersweet time since several of the students I welcomed to campus four years ago are getting ready to graduate with their Oglethorpe degree!

What does your orientation for international students involve?

We started making our orientation/pre-arrival hybrid before the pandemic which helped when we had no other choice than offering a virtual orientation. Now we use our learning management system (LMS) to share modules and build community with students before they arrive to campus in addition to a 3-day in person program that includes lots of activities to get to know the Oglethorpe campus and the Atlanta community and connect with resources and have ample time to build relationships with each other. We partner with campus colleagues to ensure students have opportunities to meet with our Librarians, Registrar, Dean of Student Success, Counseling, Campus Life among others as well as shuttle students to nearby shopping and banks to take care of essentials before classes begin.

Can you briefly describe a handful of campus clubs, events, and/or programs that are designed with international students in mind?

Global UGRAD students placed at Oglethorpe can find Marisa’s office at the Turner Lynch Campus Center, the center of campus life at the university

Oglethorpe is a small and tight-knit community where students have support to create what isn’t already available. There are several student organizations with a specific cultural focus and these clubs reflect the wide range of diversity in our community. Our international students are active leaders in social, service, and academic clubs as well as Student Government Association, student athletes, and Resident Assistants. Students may choose to join the International Ambassadors club or over 60 student organizations who engage in activities and provide opportunities to build relationships through common interests. Global Education has a partnership with a community organization called AMIS that partners local Atlanta families with international students around Atlanta, leads a bi-weekly coffee hour to encourage cross cultural interactions with fun and thoughtful discussions and FOOD, and coordinates campus wide programs promoting cultural exchange and global learning during International Education Week and I Stand with Immigrants Week.

Global UGRAD students placed at Oglethorpe can look forward to the natural beauty on campus!

What is your favorite place on campus and why?

The Oglethorpe campus is full of natural beauty with a beautiful academic quad, amazing trees, and a creek. Both old and new campus buildings have a medieval architecture including the Turner Lynch Campus Center where my office is located. I’ve perfected a perfect 30-minute loop walking around the perimeter of campus and through the academic quad to get away from my desk during lunch and catch up with students. There are always birds, flowers, and lots of nature to enjoy, but we’re also just a 15 minute walk away from the MARTA train line which means getting to see the exciting and fast growing city of Atlanta is easy too!

Please share a positive takeaway or memorable story from your work with Global UGRADs.

I have breathed such a sigh of relief this semester with the return of international students to campus including our first Global UGRADs. Global UGRADs have demonstrated leadership and assisted other students to gain confidence in their new environment. Our new students built close relationships through the orientation program which have resulted into spontaneous travels off-campus adventures together. I look forward to the spring and hearing from students about their community activities and service.