Meet the International Student Services Team

Tricia Best

Tricia Best

Director
International Student Services

Office: JCC A205a
 

Read more about Tricia

Tips for Success:

One tip that I would offer new international students starting their program at UVic is...To take advantage of the many programs and resources available to support students at UVic. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Getting adjusted and finding your way in a new country and a new educational system can take some time. There are many people and departments here to help support your personal and academic journey at UVic. At ISS we are here to support you and help you connect with your campus community.

One of the best ways for international students to get connected during their time at UVic would be…Be open to opportunities to get involved. Try to connect with peers in your classes, take advantage of professor office hours, sign up for a student group, and seek out opportunities for volunteer and leadership.

Student Success Tip: Recognize that your presence at UVic is essential to our campus community. Feel welcome to bring your full self to the experience, sharing your thoughts, experiences and perspectives, your background, cultural heritage, etc. One of the wonderful aspects of being a part of university community is the opportunity to have meaningful dialogue and engagement with people. Take advantage of these opportunities.

About me:

I have had the pleasure of working at UVic for the past 22 years. Before coming to ISS seven years ago, I was a Counsellor in Counselling Services. Throughout my career at UVic, I have been dedicated to helping students have meaningful, healthy, and positive learning experiences. I believe that essential aspects of a university education include having opportunities to learn more about yourself, how you relate to the world around you, and how you can build community. 

My parents were born in Barbados. As a first-generation settler in Canada, I have seen throughout my life the incredible impact of bringing together different cultures, various backgrounds, multiple languages, and diverse perspectives. I feel deeply passionate about international education because I firmly believe that not only does it foster incredible individual learning and development, it also plays a vital role in making the world a better place. 

Interests: Spending time with family and friends; spending time outside connecting with nature – hiking, camping, walking; opportunities to learn and grow – spending time reading, having meaningful conversations, engaging in courses, podcasts, workshops etc.

Fun fact/Something people may not know about me: I used to run marathons - I’ve run 13 marathons and 24 half marathons. I am a first generation settler in Canada. I was born in Montréal and my parents were born in Barbados.

International Student Advising

The International Student Advising team provides advice about:

Our International Student Advisers are regulated immigration practitioners who can provide advice about Canadian immigration documents and can explain how UVic policies relate to your international student status.

Carmencita Duna

Carmencita Duna

Coordinator, International Student Advising
International Student Services

Office: JCC B272b
 

Read more about Carmen

Tips for Success:

One tip that I would offer new international students starting their program at UVic is...that we recommend applying for a study permit as soon as possible because you must have a valid study permit or study permit approval (letter of introduction) when you arrive to Canada to engage in your studies if your program of study is 6 months or longer. 

One of the best ways for international students to get connected during their time at UVic would be…to attend class and engage with other students, your teaching assistants and your instructors. 

Student Success Tip: Ask questions and for help when you need it.

About me:

I grew up on Vancouver Island and studied at UVic. After my studies, I lived in different parts of Canada and in Australia working professionally with immigrants, refugees and international students. Now that I am back at UVic, I am fortunate to be able to continue working with international students.

Interests: Travel, food, books, and interior design

Fun fact/Something people may not know about me: I have a 100lb dog. Her nickname is Monster, but she is a gentle giant.

Mayah Stratton

Mayah Stratton

Frontline Adviser
International Student Services

Office: JCC B272
 

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Tips for Success:

One tip that I would offer new international students starting their program at UVic is...To remember that the University of Victoria has many programs aimed to support International Students. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help. 

One of the best ways for international students to get connected during their time at UVic would be...Get involved! Join some clubs and groups on campus.

Student Success Tip: Map out your semester using your phone or a calendar and create a schedule for some of the high stress times in advance.

About me:

I have been a grateful visitor on the territories of the Lkwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples for the past 3 years. Following my undergraduate degree, I worked as a settlement worker, and team leader of a program that supports refugees and immigrants. I then moved to the University of Regina to work as an International Advisor. It was at this position that I had the opportunity to see the vibrancy international students bring to post-secondary education. Since moving to Victoria, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to continue my work with International students.

Interests: Hiking, cooking, reading, spending time with loved ones

Fun fact/Something people may not know about me: I lived in Ireland and Scotland and travelled Europe during my gap year(s).

Amy Chen

Amy Chen

International Student Adviser
International Student Services

Office: JCC B272d
 

Read more about Amy

Tips for Success:

One tip that I would offer new international students starting their program at UVic is… To learn about available UVic resources and communities and reach out for support as needed.

One of the best ways for international students to get connected during their time at UVic would be… Get involved with various academic support programs and student groups.

Student Success Tip: Stay organized, be mindful, and ask for help as needed.

About me:

I have always had an interest in language acquisition and cultures. With a passion for second language teaching, I came to Canada as an international student and then graduated from UVic with a degree in Applied Linguistics. Prior to my career at UVic, I worked in positions that involved language teaching, consultancy, and administrative support for language classes for new immigrants in Canada. In 2017, I acquired the designation as a Regulated International Student Immigration Adviser (RISIA) with ICCRC. All of the these experiences and education background enable me to better support international students with expertise in immigration topics related to the International Student Program in Canada.

Interests: Reading, travelling and playing the piano.

Fun fact/Something people may not know about me: I have an education background in second language teaching and am fluent in 4 languages.

Sonam Dema

Sonam Dema

International Student Adviser
International Student Services

Office: JCC B272c
 

Read more about Sonam

Tips for Success:

One tip that I would offer new international students starting their program at UVic is...to take the time to build a support network. The orientation events are a great way to meet other students and start building your support network. 

One of the best ways for international students to get connected during their time at UVic would be…to join a student led club. It’s a great way to meet other students with similar interests or to try something new. If there are no active clubs that interest you, you have the opportunity to start your own club and share your passion with other students too!

Student Success Tip: Make the most of your university experience. One opportunity that I wish I had taken advantage of as a university student was to go on an exchange trip. Keep in mind that it is equally important to have a study-life balance.

About me:

I came to Canada as an international student and completed my Master of Education at UVic. I have always been very passionate about education and have worked in program development and international education for the past 10 years. Before moving to Canada, I worked as an Assistant Human Resource Manager in Bhutan. I became a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in 2016 and my work has since focused on providing immigration and settlement support to international students.

Interests: My favourite thing to do is spend time with my family and friends. I have two young daughters who keep me very busy. As a family we love to travel and watch movies. When I have some time for myself, I seek out formal educational opportunities and love to read.

Fun fact/Something people may not know about me: I come from a country that is about the same size as Vancouver Island and has approximately the same population too.

Sara Mosher-Mandel

Sara Mosher-Mandel

International Student Adviser
International Student Services

Office: JCC B272
 

Read more about Sara

Tips for Success:

One tip that I would offer new international students starting their program at UVic is…don’t be afraid to try something new and get involved both on and off campus. This is a great time to discover new interests, meet other people from different countries than your own, and take a leap out of your comfort zone!

One of the best ways for international students to get connected during their time at UVic would be…to take every opportunity to ask questions to your peers, faculty and staff. There are excellent supports and resources in place at UVic to help you get connected, so don’t hesitate to ask for help and find out what opportunities are available to you.

Student Success Tip: Studying in a new country is super exciting, but it can also present its own set of challenges. Don’t waste any time in getting involved in campus life! Be patient as it will take time to adapt, but know that we are here to help and make sure that you have a positive experience throughout your time at UVic.

About me:

My curiosity to learn about other cultures and languages steered me to seek opportunities to both study and work abroad for a number of years. After completing my Master’s degree in English Language for International Trade in Spain, I was fortunate to move to Vancouver Island and continue working with international students. Leading up to my current role as an International Student Adviser, I had been working with the Global Community programs and initiatives at UVic since 2018. I am thrilled that I can continue to support international students and help them have positive and successful experiences throughout their post-secondary journey.

Interests: Travelling, spending time with friends and family, hiking, learning languages, 90’s music and sitcoms

Fun fact/Something people may not know about me: I lived in Spain for nearly five years and consider it a home away from home.

International Exchange Program

The Exchange team coordinates and supports student exchanges, incoming and outgoing, for undergraduate and graduate students in the Faculties of Humanities, Science and Social Sciences, with over 70 partner universities in 20 countries around the world.

Kiran Nagra

Kiran Nagra

Exchange Student Adviser
International Student Services

Office: JCC B272e
 

Read more about Kiran

Tips for Success:

One tip that I would offer new international students starting their program at UVic is…Volunteer or join a student club. Look for opportunities to get involved with UVic’s campus community. In my personal experience as a UVic alumni, volunteering on campus helped me connect with other students who had similar interests while also gaining experience and learning new skills.

One of the best ways for international students to get connected during their time at UVic would be… Besides volunteering and joining a student club, look out for student events that you may be interested in! Joining our Global Community Facebook group is a great way to stay in the know about events and activities taking place.

Student Success Tip: Reaching out for help can be intimidating but please try to do it anyway! Connect with your peers, professors, and the many supports that are available to you as a UVic student. We are here to help!

About me:

As a UVic Psychology alumni, volunteering on campus during my degree fuelled my passion for supporting the student experience. This combined with my own travel experiences made me seek out working in international education and I have loved it ever since! My travels have allowed me to immerse myself in multiple languages and cultures and I am grateful for the opportunity to support students with these transformative experiences.

Interests: Spending time with my cockapoo puppy, watching comedy, travelling, reading, gathering with loved ones around food and learning to cook new recipes.

Fun fact/Something people may not know about me: I was once robbed by a monkey while travelling in Ubud, Indonesia.

Megan Sylka

Megan Sylka

Exchange Student Adviser
International Student Services

Office: JCC B272e
 

Read more about Megan

Tips for Success:

One tip that I would offer new international students starting their program at UVic is…don’t be afraid to ask for help!

One of the best ways for international students to get connected during their time at UVic would be… to check out all of the student clubs and course unions. It’s a great way to meet new people, make friends, and find something you’re passionate about.

Student Success Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t know something. Everyone needs help sometimes and UVic has incredible faculty and staff who can be great resources.

About me:

I grew up in the Vancouver area but after finishing university, I moved to Victoria and fell in love with the island life. I love surfing, hiking, and spending time outdoors, so I can’t imagine a more perfect place to live than Vancouver Island. During university, I had the opportunity to do an exchange in Montreal, as well as live abroad for a year in France. Since graduating university, I’ve spent a lot of my time travelling and exploring new places. My time on exchange and my travels all over the world really sparked my interest in International Education and I have been working as an Exchange Student Adviser at UVic since 2017.

Interests: Hiking, Surfing, Napping, Traveling

Fun fact about me: I share a birthday with Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, so I always watch Lord of the Rings on my birthday to celebrate.

Maddy Palmer

Maddy Palmer

ISS Program Assistant
International Student Services

Office: JCC B272e
 

Read more about Maddy

Tips for Success:

One tip that I would offer new international students starting their program at UVic is…Take advantage of the numerous clubs, student groups and campus activities. Becoming part of the UVic community will make your university experience so much richer.

One of the best ways for international students to get connected during their time at UVic would be…Join, join, join! Take part in any and all clubs, activities or groups that interest you.

Student Success Tip: Get to know your professors, TAs and Lab instructors. They will be great resources for you all throughout your degree(s).

About me:

I grew up in a very small west Kootenay town in British Columbia. After high school, I moved to Victoria, and completed my Bachelor of Science degree at UVic. During my degree, I took part in the International Student Services (ISS) Exchange Program, completing an exchange at the University of Newcastle in Australia. This term abroad was an amazing experience, and inspired me to apply for a job with ISS. I am so grateful to have studied abroad during my degree, and have had a love of travel ever since. Among travelling, I also enjoy surfing the chilly west coast waters, eating the yummy food that Victoria has to offer, and partaking in any kind of outdoor adventure.

Interests: surfing, yoga, eating tacos, spending time with family, adventuring outdoors, and watching hours of YouTube

Fun fact/Something people may not know about me: My hometown is so small that there are no street lights there.

UVic Global Community

The Global Community team facilitates many programs that provide opportunities and create space for international and domestic students, staff and faculty to foster intercultural connections and friendships, celebrate diversity, share perspectives, and cultivate an inclusive and globally minded campus. Through a Mentorship and Conversation Partners Program, engaging events and activities, student leadership and volunteer opportunities, our Global Community Facebook group and collaboration with many UVic Campus Partners, the Global Community team strives to provide programming with the goal of supporting international and domestic students with their transition to UVic and beyond.

Cecilia Rose

Cecilia Rose

Global Community Adviser
International Student Services

Office: JCC B272
 

Read more about Cecilia

Tips for Success:

One tip that I would offer new international students starting their program at UVic is…do not feel too intimidated to ask for help! It can be overwhelming to start your degree and you may feel like “everyone knows more than me so I have to hide this fact to fit in”. Firstly, this is not the case; everyone has something that they can contribute to this community. Secondly, there are so many resources at UVic; be humble, you just need to ask them for support. Talk to your professors in office hours and tell them what you are struggling with in class. Reach out to the Centre for Academic Communication for writing and presenting support. Ask a librarian for help with your research topic. In addition, if you do not know whom to turn to, reach out to International Student Services; they can point you in the right direction.

One of the best ways for international students to get connected during their time at UVic would be…the UVic Global Community! The part of my role that I love the most is connecting new students with someone who becomes important to them during their time at UVic. Perhaps it is someone who becomes a friend, a mentor, or just an initial support, but I really enjoy observing people finding a sense of belonging and family through our programs.

Student Sucess Tip: Get involved! The benefit of UVic is that learning takes place at all levels of this campus. Find a way to contribute to this community whether it is academic, service, or fun. There are hundreds of clubs and course unions, research opportunities, and volunteer positions. I promise this is a great way meet new people and learn more than you could have expected!

About me:

I have a passion for bringing people together, learning about other cultures, and fighting social isolation! I joined the International Student Services team in 2018 and my favourite part of my job is introducing new international students to fabulous Global Community volunteers and watching the relationships develop! When I was a UVic student completing my Undergraduate program I became deeply involved with UVic’s World University Services of Canada (WUSC) Local Committee which facilitated the Student Refugee Program. Not only did it initially introduce me to the incredible international community here at UVic, but it also allowed me to travel and work in Malawi for six months while I developed and facilitated Canadian Culture and University Prep modules for students at Dzaleka Refugee Camp. Always feel welcome to reach out and chat with me!     

Interests: I enjoy baking, cooking, dancing, music, building community, and meeting people from around the world. I also love hiking around the beautiful forests of British Columbia!

Fun fact/Something people may not know about me: I almost always have several books on the go at one time and one of my greatest joys in life is reading on a beach. I am always looking for good book recommendations. 

Theresa Wanninger

Theresa Wanninger

Global Community Adviser
International Student Services

 

Read more about Theresa

Tips for Success:

One tip that I would offer new international students starting their program at UVic is… indulge in the experience of studying aboard. Travel locally, explore nature, and learn about the Indigenous stories of the land we visit. Studying in Canada changed my life and I bet it can change yours too! 

One of the best ways for international students to get connected during their time at UVic would be… Joining clubs, committees, and social events to connect with your peers. Get involved with the Global Community or find volunteer opportunities to stay involved and increase your network.

Student Success Tip: Ask for support early and make time management a priority.

About me:

I grew up in Germany and have always enjoyed travelling and discovering new cultures in my personal and professional life. A high school exchange in France inspired me to study French and English business correspondence and then complete a Bachelor degree in International Retail Management. During my undergraduate degree, I moved to Sweden for a co-op term and finished off the international experience with two exchange semesters on Vancouver Island. In 2017, I decided to move to Canada to pursue my Master of Education at the University of Victoria. After working for Camosun International as an International Student Experience Adviser, and being an international student for many years, I am delighted to work with the Global Community to develop meaningful and engaging programming for UVic students. I look forward to connecting with you!

Interests: I love beach walks on sunny days and reading a good book with a cup of tea. When possible you will find me exploring Vancouver Island, ideally camping or staying at a cabin somewhere with my friends. Throughout 2020 I have enjoyed much quality time with my partner trying new recipes, watching Schitt’s Creek, and playing German card games.

 Fun fact/Something people may not know about me: I am a big fan of board games and get very competitive if someone tries to take over Australia when playing risk.

Self-isolation Program

To help support UVic students make the necessary arrangements for arriving in Canada and self-isolation during the COVID19 pandemic, UVic has created the UVic Student Self-Isolation Program (SSIP). The program includes guidelines on arranging accommodations and necessitiessocial programming, well-being supports as well as partial funding for eligible students; and ongoing support through the self-isolation program coordinator, who can be reached at uvicsip@uvic.ca.

Paula Leahy

Paula Leahy

Self-isolation Program Coordinator
International Student Services

Office: JCC B272
 

Read more about Paula

Tips for Success:

One tip that I would offer new international students starting their program at UVic is…to participate in activities and student-life clubs.

One of the best ways for international students to get connected during their time at UVic would be…participate in orientations at the beginning of the term.

Student Success Tip: Reach out to develop friendships with classmates so that you can support each other in your courses.

About me:

I have worked in international education for more than fifteen years most recently as the Associate Director of the English Language Centre at UVic. Prior to that I was the Manager of UVic Homestay, an EAL Teacher, TESL Teacher Trainer, and Work Experience Programs Coordinator. I spent a decade managing federally funded LINC programs which provide English and settlement services to new-comers to Canada. I earned a Master of Education degree from OISE, University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Western Ontario. I am delighted to continue working with international students coordinating the UVic Self-Isolation Program.

Interests: hiking, gardening, writing, meditation

Fun fact/Something people may not know about me: I lived in a zoo for a year!

Amy Bresser

Amy Bresser

Settlement Adviser
International Student Services

 

Read more about Amy

Tips for Success:

One tip that I would offer new international students starting their program at UVic is…take advantage of your surroundings. Go to the beach and forest as much as possible. It’s a way for you to feel connected to your surroundings and feel relaxed. We are so lucky to live in this part of Canada. Take time to enjoy it.

One of the best ways for international students to get connected during their time at UVic would be…to get involved. Meet as many people as you can from all over the world. We are so lucky to have such an amazing community of international people. Use this time to learn about other countries and cultures. Build connections with other students. It is such a great opportunity to gain a global perspective and to learn first hand about the amazing people who are in our world.

Student Success Tip: Ask questions. Ask for help if you need it. The only bad questions are those questions that are unasked. 

About me:

I have worked with the Canadian newcomer population for the last 20 years as a language assessor, settlement advisor and EAL instructor. I have lived in many provinces throughout Canada and I am happy to call Victoria home. When I am not working at UVic, I am outside exploring nature with my family, camping, climbing and paddling.

Interests: Paddling, camping, fishing and hanging out at the beach with my family.

Fun fact/Something people may not know about me: I have a cat named Brenda, a dog named Tanu and I used to have a pet hermit crab named Hermie.