CU Denver’s Office of International Affairs Helps Bring a Global Perspective to CU Denver
Students celebrate at a Lunar New Year Celebration hosted by CU Denver's Asian Students Association (ASA) in spring 2024.

CU Denver’s Office of International Affairs Helps Bring a Global Perspective to CU Denver

May 28, 2024

Whether it’s a Lunar New Year celebration with dancing dragons or a Holi celebration with vibrant-colored chalk powder flying through the air, CU Denver is a home away from home for more than 1,000 international students who enrich our campus with their perspective, cultures, and experiences. But having a successful college experience in another country requires a lot of support, both academically and personally, which is where the Office of International Affairs comes in.  

Alana Jones

“As an office, we’re really passionate about the opportunities for international students around the world to be able to come to the United States to pursue their higher education goals,” said Associate Vice Chancellor for the Office of International Affairs Alana Jones. “We’re also really passionate about the opportunity that domestic CU Denver students get by interacting with international students, whether it’s in the classroom or in student clubs. International students add such diversity and richness to an already diverse campus.” 

The office is responsible for not only attracting international students but also supporting their transition to the U.S. and helping them feel connected in Denver. Jones oversees this dual-campus unit (it operates on both the CU Denver and Anschutz campuses), which is part of CU Denver’s Strategic Enrollment and Student Success (SESS) Division and covers five areas: China Initiatives, International Enrollment, International Operations, Global Education, and International Student & Scholar Services. “We are a comprehensive office, meaning that anything that involves international activity will touch our office in some form or fashion,” Jones said. “I often say, if it involves somebody’s passport, or somebody’s visa, then in some way it will involve our office.” 

A Global Passion and Perspective 

Jones’ 30-year career has always had an international focus. After she earned her bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Georgia, she moved to Colorado and worked as a contractor for the U.S. Antarctic Program—which is overseen by the National Science Foundation based in Virginia but the contractor has an office in Centennial—for eight years. She spent four of those years in Antarctica supporting research, science, and education. “It was a very international experience,” Jones said. “In addition to traveling through countries like New Zealand and Chile in order to get to Antarctica, there are numerous international research and logistics partnerships on the continent. So, I really started my career in an international setting.” 

For family reasons, she moved to Massachusetts and transitioned to an international nonprofit, Earthwatch Institute, where she oversaw six international research and learning centers in several countries, including India, China, Brazil, Costa Rica, and the U.K. She said the opportunity was one of the greatest growth experiences of her career. “In a five-year period we hired global teams, developed international partnerships, opened research and learning centers on five continents, ran programs engaging thousands of participants, and then closed the centers after the climate partnership program ended,” Jones said. “It was an intensive learning and development period in my career regarding international partnerships, global operations, and team leadership.”

Her family eventually moved back to Denver, and she was excited to come across a role as director of international operations at CU Denver | Anschutz. “It was an opportunity for me to transfer my skills to higher ed,” said Jones. In August, she’ll celebrate 12 years as a member of the Lynx community. “I love the institution. There’s never two days that look the same for me in this role. The world is a dynamic and changing place. My colleagues are fantastic. The students are amazing. There’s such rich diversity at CU Denver | Anschutz.” 

In her current role, Jones oversees a team that handles virtually everything having to do with international activity—which her industry experience helped prepare her for. “We’re passionate about the opportunities for international students around the world to be able to come to the United States and pursue their higher education goals,” Jones said. 

Helping International Students Find Their Moments  

Jones’ team recruits and admits international students, supports international scholars, assists with international scholarships, provides immigration advising, manages international risk and incident response, organizes global education opportunities (also known as study abroad), and more.  

One of the unit’s longest standing initiatives is with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the International College Beijing, a 30-year partnership between CU Denver and China Agricultural University that offers classes by CU Denver faculty to Chinese students in China and Colorado, and provides undergraduate degrees in economics and communication. The program teaches roughly 600 students a year in Beijing.  

Jones said her team is passionate about making CU Denver accessible for international students. In addition to helping international students transition to Colorado and the campuses, they are also committed to helping these students feel a sense of belonging and find a community on and off campus. Her team works with units across campus to offer cultural celebrations and opportunities outside of the classroom to build relationships.  

Her team also helps U.S. students find international opportunities. “There are so many students that don’t know or think that study abroad is an option for them, and it truly is,” Jones said.  

CU Denver | Anschutz’s most sought-after global education programs are faculty-led, Jones said, which means that faculty travel with students for two to four weeks to teach a course in another country, like Brazil, Finland, Belize, and others. “The faculty are sharing such wisdom and experience,” Jones said, adding, “They’re not only ensuring that they are delivering an academic program and curriculum that is impactful and meaningful, but they’re also facilitating the experiential part of it, which is activities and lectures and cultural visits.” 

Whether it’s welcoming an international student to campus or sending students abroad, Jones considers international experiences to be meaningful for everyone involved. “It can happen at a really important period in someone’s life when they’re going through this academic journey,” Jones said. “And they’re really ripe for a transformational experience.” 

Staff Spotlights:   

Get to know some of the International Affairs team members, in their own words.  

Andrew Wingfield, EdD, Director of Global Education  

Hometown: “Edmond, OK (I’ve lived in Denver over 10 years).” 

Typical Day: “My days are greatly varied—[which is] one of my favorite aspects of the role. I am directly involved in all the following functional areas: Office of Global Education (OGE) team leadership, risk management, new program development, operations refinement, experiential learning collaboration, and budget planning and reconciliation. My work takes me to all corners of the Auraria and Anschutz campuses and into downtown Denver, ensuring a high daily step count and plenty of opportunities to bump into folks I know.” 

Favorite Thing about My Job: “I treasure the amount of interpersonal interaction I enjoy through my work. Between my officemates in the LynxConnect space and my teammates through the Office of International Affairs, there are ample opportunities for collaboration and connection during the workday. We have an incredible faculty at CU Denver | Anschutz, and I love working with dedicated faculty members in designing global learning programs that expose CU students to new cultures, ideas, and ways of thinking. Finally, this work would be meaningless without hearing what these experiences mean to CU students.” 

Outside of Work: “I’m an avid traveler, both domestically and abroad. I likewise love the outdoors and seek opportunities to play outside anywhere I go. My favorite activities include skiing, cycling, diving, hiking, gardening, attending concerts, and playing board games.  Around town, you’ll catch me out with friends, reveling in Cheesman Park, trying out new places to eat, and attending a variety of shows, festivals, and exhibitions.” 

Maria Jose Luna, International Services Specialist  

Hometown: “I am originally from Nicaragua, Central America. My hometown is Bluefields, Nicaragua.” 

Typical Day: “Location, location! My office serves international students at both CU Denver and the Anschutz Medical Campus. You can often find me creating immigration documents for newly admitted international students. This document allows them to apply for an F-1 student visa to come study on our campuses. Once students have arrived in Denver, the International Student and Scholars Services (ISSS) team helps students access the benefits of the F-1 visa and helps them maintain those benefits by monitoring their continued progress to complete their degree.” 

Favorite Thing about My Job: “Students—advising and helping international students navigate our education system.” 

Outside of Work: “I love traveling, trying new foods, love cooking, and spending lots of time with my twin boys. Soccer mom!” 

Haeryoung (Fiona) Ryu, International Credential Evaluation Manager 

Hometown: “I was born in Incheon and grew up in Gwangmyeong-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, located right outside of the southwest of Seoul.” 

Typical Day: “As a credential evaluator, at least half of my workday involves credential evaluation. During this process, the first step is to check the accreditation of the institutions, the level of study, and the authenticity of documents. Then, we interpret their credits/grades to align with ours and determine the comparability of their degree to CU Denver standards. Sometimes, the required information is not readily available, so a decent amount of time is spent searching for it to complete the evaluation for myself and our credential evaluation team. The other half of my day is dedicated to quality assurance of Slate bins and applications, as well as troubleshooting to ensure they are routed correctly through the workflow and funnel.” 

Favorite Thing about My Job: “CU Denver is an equity-serving institution. Equity and consistency are very important to our office, application process, and credential evaluation process. So, we started a monthly Credential Evaluation Consistency Committee meeting to discuss the evaluation and admission policy, aiming to find the most equitable approach possible. Our English language proficiency requirement by credential was established during the meeting. I love consistently thinking about what is fair and best for students in terms of our application and evaluation policy. It can be very frustrating because there is no right and wrong answer, but I also love to continue thinking about it and am proud of this channel that our team created!” 

Outside of Work: “Hiking is my favorite activity during the summertime. I started hiking every weekend as the weather got warmer. I also love watching sports. Denver has top national sports teams, which I really appreciate, especially during the extended playoff time with a festival vibe. I had never been much of an outdoor or sports person before, but Denver and Colorado have changed the fun things I like to do.” 

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