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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 more than ten years. Prior to joining UNCW, Jen worked at the Center for International Faculty & Student Services at Rutgers University. Jennifer has served 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 Athens, Greece to an American father and English mother and is married to a Spaniard, with whom she has three children.  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.

Contact Mrs. Fernandez-Villa


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.

Contact Mrs. Heim

Jessie Heim, professional photo

Amy Lekeu, Assistant Director

Amy Lekeu serves J-1 exchange students as the Assistant Director of International Students & Scholar Services. She also advises on H-1B and green card petitions. Amy earned her Master’s degree in International Education Policy from the University of Maryland and her Bachelor’s degree in English-Philosophy from Christopher Newport University. During her undergraduate program, Amy studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic. After graduation, she spent a year volunteering with the Service Protestant de la Jeunesse in Belgium and continues to experience the importance of service learning. Amy lives in Wilmington with her Belgian husband and enjoys reading about innovative ideas, exploring new cooking techniques, and traveling. As an educator, Amy is strongly committed to equity and diversity in higher education as well as serving local and global communities on campus. 

Contact Mrs. Lekeu

Amy Lekeu 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.  

Contact Mrs. Gaborov Jones

Maria Elena

Rachel Taube, Global Liaison

Rachel Taube is a first year student at UNCW's MFA program, studying fiction. She is a Fellow at Writers in Action, a UNCW outreach program that places MFA student volunteers into area schools, and an Editor-at-Large for Cleaver Magazine. Prior to moving to North Carolina to begin her studies, Rachel worked in communications and publishing in New York and Philadelphia, with brief stints in London and France. She holds an undergraduate degree in English, with a minor in French, from the University of Pennsylvania.


Nathan Blocker, Global Liaison

Nathan Blocker is in his first year in UNCW’s Conflict Management Resolution Master’s program. He is pursuing the National & International Security Concentration. Nathan also received his undergraduate degree from UNCW and studied abroad at the University of Newcastle in Newcastle, Australia. While an undergraduate, he double majored in Political Science and International Studies (Globalization Concentration) and also received a minor in Middle Eastern Islamic Studies. In between his stints at UNCW, he was a Business/NGO Advisor with the Peace Corps in Ukraine and an Israel Engagement Fellow with the Oregon Hillel Foundation. Nathan loves to travel in his free time and is always looking for that next adventure! In his free time in the summer and winter you can usually find him leading Birthright trips to Israel. Nathan is very passionate when it comes to a global education and wants to help all students in this realm.


Kacie Cox, Global Liaison

Kacie Cox is in her second year of the Conflict Management Resolution Master’s Program in the National and International Security Concentration.  She received her undergraduate degree from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she double majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice and Criminology. She studied abroad in Stellenbosch, South Africa and London, United Kingdom. She also received a Masters Certificate from the Galilee Institute in Nahalal, Israel. She recently returned from teaching English in Portonovo, Spain. Kacie loves learning about other cultures and geography. She is always looking for her next destination, and loves to share her passion of travel and culture with others. 

Kacie Cox