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Meet Our Staff

From registration to graduation, we'll support you!

The International Programs staff is dedicated to giving our International Students every opportunity to reach their goals at TCC. Warm, friendly and highly trained in working with international students, we'll help you with paperwork, class selection, social and cultural issues, and be a friend and advocate for your success.


Give us a call, send an email, or just stop by to see us. We're looking forward to speaking with you soon!

International Programs Office
Bldg. 11, 2nd floor
Phone/Fax 253.566.5190

How will we help you? Any way we can!

  • 5 full-time staff, including immigration advisor and academic advisor
  • Personally oversee your housing arrangements
  • Languages spoken: Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Russian, Portugese, French, & Wolof
  • Plan fun and useful orientation activities and events throughout the year
  • Give you a place to visit, hang out, and talk through your experience in our comfy, spacious offices

Meet TCC's ISSP Staff

JamesJames Newman

Director of International Programs & PDSO

As Program Director for International Recruitment since 2009, James emphasized short-term international training and degree programs. The high school completion program he developed and implemented led to a dramatic increase in Chinese student enrollment.

James holds a Master of Project Management, obtained from Keller Graduate School, and a Master of Business Administration from the New York Institute of Technology. He lived in China for 7 years, attended Beijing's Language and Culture University, and is fluent in Mandarin.

NamiNamiko Bagirimvano

Manager for International Housing and Short Term Programs & DSO

Nami earned her undergraduate degree in Japan and worked for an airline company prior to pursuing her MA in International Education at the SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, VT.  After graduation in 2009, she joined the University of Arkansas as a programming, housing and retention specialist. Nami recently moved to Tacoma from Arkansas at the end of July with her two adorable daughters and husband. Nami is looking forward to contributing to the mission of TCC and our campus internationalization efforts.

JonJon Maes

Assistant Director of International Recruitment and Admissions & DSO

Jon brings a strong background in international education development and student services to TCC's International Programs team. He lived in South East Asia and South Korea for over eight years working as a program manager, education administrator, ESL instructor, curriculum developer, and overseas study advisor. Jon also has nearly 10 years of sales & marketing experience including student recruitment, public speaking, and branding activities. 

Jon has a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Gonzaga University and a joint M.Sc. in Research and Innovation in Higher Education from University of Tampere, Finland and Danube Unviersity Krems, Austria. His travels have taken him around the globe to over 30 countries on four continents. He speaks Korean along with basic Indonesian, Spanish, and German.

PendaNdeye Penda Sow

Assistant Director of International Program Support Services & DSO

Penda was born and raised in Dakar, Senegal before moving to the U.S. at 13. She has a B.A. in Communications with minors in Spanish and Diversity in Higher Education from Western Washington University and a M.Sc. in Higher Education Leadership with a focus on Student Servies from Walden University. Penda has a strong background in international student advising and recruitment. Her mission in life is to change lives one day at a time through education. Penda is also fluent in French, Spanish, and Wolof.

AlexaAlexa Mercado-Curtis

Admissions Specialist & DSO

Alexa processes international student admissions and assists in international short-term programs.  She has over five years of experience in Student Life and International Student Services & Programs at TCC and understands the diverse groups that the college serves. While working with students on a daily basis, she seeks to improve their experiences before, during, and after their studies at TCC.

Alexa graduated from TCC in 2009 and is currently working on her Bachelor's degree. She has made multiple visits to the Philippines, Canada, Mexico, and South Korea and hopes to continue broadening her knowledge of cultures through world travel and interactions with the students that she enjoys serving every day.

Ashley BushAshley Bush

International Academic Advisor

Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Ashley has studied abroad in such countries as Germany, New Zealand and the U.S. since she was 14. She graduated from Korea University, Seoul, South Korea with a B.A. degree in English and German Language and Literature. Later, Ashley earned her M.A. degree in Higher Education with a focus on international education from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her background lies in study abroad program support as well as international student programming and advising.

MonikaMonika Scheffe

Part-Time Advisor & DSO

Monika joins the TCC team with a Bachelor’s degree in Education, majoring in English and minoring in Art.  After graduating from Western Washington University, she lived in Japan, volunteering for an international organization.   For the last 10 years she has worked in Tacoma building partnerships with families, teaching leadership classes, running a peer mentoring program and leading admissions.   She also directed a China Service and Study Tour program, traveling with high school students to China and Hong Kong.   Monika and her husband have hosted students in their home from eight countries and three continents, and intend to continue traveling and working in a service capacity in the future.

Iulia ChepteaIulia Cheptea

International Customer Service Assistant & DSO

Iulia is from Beltsy, Moldova and has lived in the U.S. for 6 years. Beginning as an exchange student at Parklane Academy in McComb, Mississippi, she graduated from TCC with an A.A. in Business. During her time at TCC, Iulia was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honors society, worked as an international office clerk and international student mentor, volunteered for TCC Outreach Department’s Team Titan, and was nominated for the 2014 Outstanding Student Award. She also speaks Russian and likes to travel having been to Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and Israel.

Bruna PagniBruna Pagni

Housing Assistant

Bruna comes from an Italian family and grew up in Brazil. She moved to Tacoma in 2013, graduated from TCC in 2015 with an A.A. in Business, and was nominated for TCC's Outstanding Student Award. Bruna started her career in the TCC International Progams office as a student mentor and helped coordinate short-term programs for students from Japan and Denmark. Bruna speaks fluent Portuguese and Italian, and is learning Spanish. She loves to travel, learn about new cultures, and endeavors to help new international students at TCC feel welcome and find a second home in their homestay.

Emily SheaEmily Shea

Part-time Recruiter for China

Emily attended Tacoma Community College, graduating in 2012. She then transferred to the University of Washington where she majored in Chinese language and graduated magna cum laude in 2014. She is currently pursuing graduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing. In total, she has studied Chinese language for six years. Having had a spectacular experience studying at TCC, and having seen the countless benefits of studying abroad in her own academic career, Emily is eager for the opportunity to represent TCC in China.

Hai DoanHai Doan

Part-time Recruiter for Vietnam

As a TCC alumnus, Hai enjoys connecting with prospective students from Vietnam and assisting them to attend Tacoma Community College. He loves sharing his stories and tips on how to be successful at an American college. Coming to Washington in 2005 as an international student, Hai successfully completed the 2+2 program in which he earned his Associate Degree in Business from Tacoma Community College and then received his Bachelor Degree in Marketing from Pacific Lutheran University. 

Hai enriched his experience with Tacoma Community College through different roles and activities. He used to be the International Office Assistant and the President of International Student Organization at TCC. Hai was involved in various activities at the college: coordinated orientation week to welcome new international students, led the short-term program for students from Egypt, organized trips and activities for international students, and volunteered for Student Life. During his student career at Tacoma Community College, Hai received the Outstanding Student Award from TCC International Program in 2006 and was nominated for the Ellen Pinto Outstanding Student Award in 2007.

IsaIsabella Webb

Short-Term Programs Coordinator

Isabella was born and raised in Australia and always knew she wanted to travel and see the world. She began her journey by studying for her undergraduate degree in both Hawaii and North Carolina. After graduating she worked with the Education Channel in Florida. She attended Graduate School first in Italy and then New York. Isabella lived in Italy for two years and while there she worked with American Students and led them on educational tours from Rome to Paris to London.

Isabella began her career with community colleges as an Academic Transfer Advisor in Florida and after continuing her journey to the Northwest she worked with both the University of Washington and Tacoma Community College. She has been organizing TCC's Short-Term Programs in the summer and winter quarters since 2012 and often thinks she has the best job in the world.

Her motto? A smile is worth a thousand words. 

Front Desk Staff

We currently have several part-time student staff members working in the International Office: Grace from Vietnam, Yerzhan from Kazakhstan, and Mohamed from Senegal. They will be greeting you in the mornings and afternoons and can help you make appointments with staff.

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