About Us

Michelle Anderson Application Specialist

Michelle grew up in Manila, Philippines. As a young child, she got a taste of traveling abroad when her family visited Jeddah, Amsterdam, and America. In fourth grade, her family moved to America and eventually settled in Tucson. Michelle graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Accounting. After graduating, she and her husband moved to Austin, TX where she had a short but successful career in accounting. Michelle realized that accounting wasn't for her and after quitting her job, she and her husband lived in India for four months where she trained to be a teacher. She worked at a private school in Austin, Texas for six years as a math teacher and, eventually, as the high school campus head. She enjoyed working with students and helping them navigate through SAT prep and college applications.

After the birth of her son, her family moved back to Tucson to be near relatives. When her son was four years old, her family moved to Europe and lived there for fourteen months. Living and traveling around Europe was a great adventure. Michelle feels that traveling and living abroad has given her a broader perspective on life. She is excited to be a part of Study Abroad and Student Exchange. She has always found great satisfaction in helping students and she is thrilled to be helping UA students achieve their dreams of studying abroad.

Devon Bilsing Devon Bilsing Study Abroad Coordinator
Devon attended Iowa State University, where he earned a B.A. in German and a M.S. in Communications. His passion for education abroad began after a semester in Cork, Ireland during his sophomore year. During his college career, Devon had several international experiences including studying abroad in Florence, Italy; Berlin, Germany (twice!); Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and having an internship in Swansea, Wales. He joined SASE in November of 2015, and is delighted to be part of this fantastic team (and to be a Wildcat!). Professionally, Devon is interested in how study abroad is communicated to students, and believes it is important to create global citizens by exposing students to the world. Personally, he is interested in breakfast, endless learning, and riding his motorcycle. Future plans include more travel, another language, and pursuing a Ph.D.
Advises for: Italy, United Kingdom, Ireland
Jill Calderón Assistant Director, Student Health & Safety

Jill completed her BA at Colorado State University in Creative Writing and her MA in Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona. After graduating with her undergraduate degree, she set out for Costa Rica where she worked at becoming fluent in Spanish while running her own business, Escuela Latina de Lenguas, S.A., a language school teaching English to Costa Ricans and offering service learning opportunities and Spanish language instruction to international visitors. While in Costa Rica, Jill had the opportunity to travel throughout Latin America. She came to Tucson from Costa Rica in 2000 to work at the UA and pursue her Master's degree.  Currently, Jill serves as the Program Director, Senior and assists the Center for Latin American Studies with international initiatives in teaching, research and study programs abroad.

Hsin-Fen Chang Hsin-Fen Chang Study Abroad Coordinator

Hsin-Fen was born and raised on the beautiful island of Taiwan. In her sophomore year in college, she studied abroad in Canada; upon completing her B.A. in Chinese Language and Creative Writing, she received a government grant to work abroad in England, sharing the beauty and the complexity of her mother tongue with her students. Before coming to the U.S., she had traveled to many countries including China, Costa Rica, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan and New Zealand, helping to form a healthy and positive view of the world. 

In 2012, Hsin-Fen came to the University of Arizona to pursue her M.A. in Language, Reading and Culture at the College of Education, where she met her husband who was born and raised in Nogales, Sonora and AZ. She believes her life journeys have shaped her into a better human being who appreciates different cultures and perspectives. She values the precious life lessons one can learn when being abroad, and is thrilled to join the SASE team to assist Wildcats to study abroad and explore the world!

Harmony DeFazio Harmony DeFazio Director, Study Abroad & Student Exchange and Executive Director, Global Mobility Lab

Harmony’s interest in a career in international education began after college, but her desire to explore the world began earlier when, at age 15, she participated in a short exchange to Germany. This experience piqued a cultural curiosity that motivated her repeated return to Germany to live, work and study. Harmony attended the University of Oregon, where she earned first a BA in German with minors in Italian and Linguistics, then a Master of Public Administration with a focus on international education.  As an undergraduate, she studied abroad in Germany and Italy and traveled extensively within Europe. In graduate school, she returned to Germany to create her first study abroad program.   Since then, Harmony has had a passion for developing global opportunities for US students. As a result of her personal and professional experiences abroad, Harmony is a firm believer in the life‐changing impact of intercultural exploration and understanding.  She joined the Office of Global Initiatives in 2006 and now serves as study abroad director and executive director of the global mobility lab.

Lindsay Downs Study Abroad Enrollment and Curriculum Manager

Lindsay’s connection to UA Study Abroad goes back to 2004 when she first started working in the office as a graduate student. Passionate about international education, she decided to stay on the team as a Study Abroad Coordinator until 2011 when she took a break to stay home to raise her two children.

She’s excited to be back in a new role focusing not only on students, but also on “behind-the-scenes” work, helping to ensure the office runs smoothly and efficiently. Lindsay coordinates all Eller study abroad programs and helps to facilitate study abroad registration.

A native of upstate New York, Lindsay graduated from Le Moyne College in Syracuse. She participated in study abroad programs to both England and Ireland and later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from the UA— go Wildcats! When she’s not at the office, she enjoys spending time with her family, especially traveling across Arizona by RV. Currently, Lindsay serves as the Study Abroad Enrollment and Curriculum Manager.

Advises for Eller Porgrams

Derrick Goodrich Study Abroad Coordinator

Derrick grew up mostly in Tucson but spent his teenage years in a small coal-mining town in northeastern Wyoming. Wanting to leave his small confines and explore different parts of the world, he enlisted in the US military and was deployed to South Korea, Egypt, and elsewhere. Hitting the books after his military service and gaining degrees in political science, Derrick took part in a summer abroad program on the island of Crete, taking courses with fellow undergraduates from conflict-areas like the Middle East and the Balkans. His international travels left a lasting impression on Derrick and he is committed to seeing others get the opportunity to experience life-altering connections and moments abroad as well.

Advises for: Australia, Bhutan, China, Denmark, Finland, India, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam

Renee Griggs Renee Griggs Associate Director

Renee has been with Study Abroad and Student Exchange for many years. Renee is the principal advisor for most Eller programs and is the person you'll want to see for any help with registration, posting of credits, billing questions, or financial aid.

Advises for Semester at Sea

Sanji Gybyrov Peer Advisor

Sanji was born in Turkmenistan located in the central Asian countries. At an early age, he moved to France to pursue his life in Monaco. Adventurous, he traveled to many countries around the world such as China, UK, Carribean Islands to discover new cultures and self-confidence. Currently attending the University of Arizona with the goal of becoming an Eller Student where he would like to major in marketing and management. From all the experience, this young Wildcat joins our crew for becoming a Peer Advisor for Study Abroad to share his past experiences with any students willing to travel and discover new adventures around our world.

Advises for: General Questions

Dafne Johnson Study Abroad Coordinator
Alena LaScola Peer Advisor

Alena was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona and developed a travel bug early on in her life. Throughout grade school and high school she traveled extensively and knew she wanted to continue that through college. Now attending the University of Arizona, she is pursuing a B.S. in Management Information Systems with minors in German Studies and Global Business. Alena attended school at the University of Westminster in London last year which inspired her to go again for the upcoming summer. The sum of her experiences abroad have motivated her to work towards a global career and to help other students see the benefit of a multi-cultural education along the way.

Advises for: General Questions and CEA Programs

Veronica Ortiz Study Abroad Program Assistant

Veronica joined Study Abroad and Student Exchange in December 2016. She is excited about all the interesting people she is working with and serving! She earned her B.S. from the University of Arizona in Elementary Education and obtained her Arizona Teaching Certification with the Structured English Immersion endorsement. She taught elementary school for several years in Tucson. Her interests include the pursuit of garnering more experiences with her family. She recently participated in her first Mud Run with her two kids and husband. She especially enjoys attending the Broadway in Tucson shows at Centennial Hall with her husband on their date nights.

Rudo Moyo Sandy Rudo Moyo Sandy Program Development Manager

Born in Lusaka, Zambia to Zambian and Zimbabwean parents, Rudo had early exposure to a cross cultural setting. She grew up in Stockholm, Sweden and Gaborone, Botswana. In 2000, after completing her undergraduate degree in French and English at the University of Botswana, Rudo’s family migrated to the United States. She has lived and studied in the United Kingdom where she obtained her Masters in Politics of Democracy at Oxford Brookes University. Rudo’s professional career includes working in the nonprofit sector on areas such as human rights and development. She has vast experience working with young people from diverse backgrounds. She has travelled to over 30 countries across Sub-Sahara and Northern Africa, South East Asia, Western, Northern and Central Europe. She is very passionate about inter cultural learning and believes that educational exchanges that facilitate such experiences are an integral part of personal growth. Rudo’s hobbies include writing poetry and playing tennis.

Advises for: Botswana, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ghana, France, Martinique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, The Honors Trip

Lisa Turker Lisa Turker Associate Director, Operations and Student Engagement

Lisa’s interest in study abroad started with her own experience studying in Copenhagen, Denmark during her undergraduate studies. After completing her MA in Political Science in 2007, Lisa moved to Almaty, Kazakhstan, where she worked at KIMEP University in the Language Center. While in Almaty, Lisa also worked on projects with USAID/CAR and the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia. In 2010, Lisa became a lecturer and international advisor at Istanbul Arel University in Turkey. She has traveled to over 20 countries throughout Europe, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Having recently returned to the States, Lisa is excited to use her experience to encourage students to engage in meaningful and enlightening adventures abroad.

Advises for: Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates

Susan Valdez-Villarreal Health and Safety Student Worker
Katie Van Wyk Study Abroad Coordinator, Senior

Born and raised in the cheese head state, Katie attended the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse where she received her B.S. degree in Mathematics and Spanish. During her undergraduate career, she spent a semester studying in Granada, Spain and began working in the Office of International Education upon her return to help other students gain an intercultural experience. After graduation, Katie moved to Santiago, Chile where she worked as an Au Pair and Customer Service Representative for ECELA Spanish Schools. Upon completing her M.S.Ed in Student Affairs Administration, Katie was thrilled to join the SASE team in June of 2015. She serves as the Coordinator for Spain and South America.

Advises for: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, and Spain

Danny Vander Ploeg Danny Vander Ploeg Study Abroad Coordinator, Senior

Before venturing out into the world, Danny grew up in Michigan.  During his time at Michigan State University, he studied abroad in Vienna, Austria where he had a transformative travel experience meeting new people, seeing different ways of living, and exploring some of the most interesting parts of Europe.  After graduating, he was looking for more adventures abroad, so he joined the Peace Corps where he taught English in a small village in southern Kazakhstan.  After returning from Kazakhstan, Danny still had the travel bug, so he spent another six months exploring Central America.  He then moved to Tucson where he worked at the Arizona State Museum while he earned an MA in Higher Education Administration from the University of Arizona.  Danny loves to travel, absorb culture, explore nature, spend time with his family, and play with his very rambunctious dog. 

Advises for: Austria, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Global Engineering Education Exchange (GE3), Medieval Europe Study Tour