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Phone: +1.910.962.3685

Location: Office of International Programs, Friday Annex 118

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Mission Statement

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is dedicated to fostering globalization by attracting, supporting, engaging, and advocating for UNCW’s community of international students and scholars.

Specifically, ISSS:

  • Advises on and ensures institutional compliance with federal immigration regulations for students, visiting scholars, and employees on our visa sponsorship (F, J, H-1B, and LPR);
  • Provides transition support that addresses the unique needs of international students and scholars;
  • Coordinates events that engage international students with the broader community to promote a global culture throughout our campus and region;
  • Serves the broader campus community in an administrative and advisory capacity.

International Student & Scholar Services Staff

Jen Fernandez-Villa, Director

Jen Fernandez-Villa has served as the director of International Student & Scholar Services for ten years. Prior to joining UNCW, Jen worked at the Center for International Faculty & Student Services at Rutgers University. Jennifer serves on the NAFSA Region VII board, served as chair of the North Carolina Association of International Educators and enjoys giving presentations and trainings at conferences. Jen is pursuing a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership at UNCW, earned a Master's degree in Global Affairs from Rutgers, and a Bachelor's in Spanish from New York University. While attending NYU, Jen studied in Madrid, Spain for a year and Florence, Italy for a summer. Jen was born in Greece to an American father and English mother and is married to a Spaniard, with whom she has three amazing kids, ages 7, 5, and 3. Jen loves getting to know students and scholars from around the world and helping them as they settle in to their new life in the USA.

Jessie Heim, Assistant Director

Jessie Heim has worked at UNCW for over five years. Prior to working in International Student & Scholar Services, Jessie worked in the Office of Admissions at UNCW with international applicants. Jessie earned both a Master's degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor's degree in Communication Studies from UNCW. Jessie studied abroad in London during her undergraduate program and has worked in South Africa, Fiji, and Australia as a photographer. Jessie serves on the board of Study North Carolina and enjoys visiting international schools, conferences, and events to connect with international students and scholars from around the world. During a student's time at UNCW it is Jessie's priority to ensure students have an exceptional global Seahawk experience from the moment they step on-campus.
Jessie Heim, professional photo

María Elena Gaborov Jones, Program Coordinator

María Elena Gaborov Jones serves as the Program Coordinator of International Students & Scholar Services.  She earned her degree in Translation through the National University of Córdoba in Argentina and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Spanish at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Prior to joining UNCW, María Elena worked at UNC Hospitals as a Spanish Medical Interpreter and Translator.  In 2013 she served as the International Medical Interpreters Association vice chair for North Carolina. She received the American Translators Association School Outreach Program Award that year for her contributions to the promotion of translation and interpretation.  María Elena loves diversity, learning new languages and traveling around the world.  She is passionate about assisting students in making the most of their experience in UNCW.  María Elena is a native of Argentina and is married to a North Carolinian, with whom she has two foster daughters.  

Maria Elena

Ross Gormley, Global Liaison

Ross Gormley is in his second year of study at UNCW's MFA program for creative writing with a focus in creative nonfiction. He can often be seen around campus interviewing or photographing international students for the Campus Globe, a magazine that celebrates international student, faculty, and alumni achievement at UNCW. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University and has taught English in Peru, Italy, South Boston, North Carolina, and Connecticut. He enjoys surfing, cycling, hiking, and seeing live rock music.