ABERDEEN, S.D. – Four out of the five awards given out at the recent NAFSA Region IV Conference went to the Northern State University Office of International Programs—more awards than any one institution has ever received in one year.
NAFSA is a premiere organization committed to advancing international higher education. The awards were given out at the annual conference for NAFSA’s Region IV, which includes Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota.
The conference, held in Fargo, included a Business and Awards Luncheon on Oct. 23, where Northern was honored with the following awards:
- Distinguished Service Award: Stacey Schmidt
This award recognizes members who have donated at least 10 years of service to NAFSA and who have acted as mentors to colleagues in all aspects of the field. Schmidt serves as the South Dakota State Representative for the region.
- Friend of the Region Award: Leigh Neys
This award recognizes individuals who have given exceptional service to Region IV. Neys serves as International Education Leadership Knowledge Community Representative.
- Outstanding New Professional Award: Dominika Blum
This award recognizes an individual who has been in the field for one to five years; a new professional who is contributing significantly and making a difference in the lives of students and co-workers; someone who is dynamic, enthusiastic, passionate, and who plans to stay involved in the field.
- Internationalization Achievement Award: Northern State University
This award recognizes an institution, organization or group that is making strides, being innovative, and is committed to comprehensive internationalization of the campus.
Blum said this is a huge achievement for Northern and for the NSU Office of International Programs.
“Getting four out of five awards in the same year and beating big schools in the region has never happened before,” she said. “Our international and domestic students are the ones who benefit the most from our hard work, and for that I’m grateful!”
Neys added, “Receiving these honorable awards shows that Northern State University has an outstanding International Programs staff committed to advancing international education in the region.”
In her role as international education leadership representative for NAFSA Region IV, Neys provides leadership and expertise in the development and realization of a vision for campus internationalization. In addition to her administration experience, she has taught university-level courses and participated in intercultural leadership development activities.
Prior to NSU, Neys worked as director of International Programs and Services at the University of Minnesota Duluth and served as the NAFSA 2018 Region IV conference chair. She has also served as the Minnesota State Representative for NAFSA Region IV and as a member of the International Studies Abroad Advisory Board. Neys holds a doctorate in organization leadership, policy and development from the University of Minnesota.
The NAFSA Region IV conference also included presentations. NSU international students JJ Martina and Betser Roney were among the presenters with their presentation, “Engaging International Students in the Classroom.” Blum co-presented with Veelie Alba (CIS Abroad) and Erin Kane (Augustana University) during a Wednesday morning session. Their topic was “Why Does A River Change Its Course? Moments That Alter The Study Abroad Journey.”
“We identified different moments throughout the study abroad journey and explored how educators can influence, define, deepen or disrupt these moments,” Blum said. “Multifaceted perspectives from research in psychology and business were introduced. We shared examples of how we adopted these perspectives to innovate and support our offices and students.”
Blum was also awarded a NAFSA Region IV Conference Grant, which is financial support for Region IV international educators with demonstrated need. The grant covered the cost of full conference registration. For more information about the grant, awards or conference, visit NAFSA Region IV Conference online.
About Northern State University
Northern State University is a regional university that offers outstanding academics and exceptional extracurricular activities at an affordable price on a safe, welcoming campus. Northern State recently announced its Educational Impact Campaign, with a goal of raising $55 million for a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, new athletic and recreation fields, and an on-campus regional sports complex. Once the campaign is complete, NSU will be the recipient of more than $100 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.